I think I can say without any fear of contradiction: “The Upside” is the greatest movie released in 2019 so far, partially because it’s the only big movie. I give “The Upside” three out of four stars.
It’s unusual for a film this good to be released this time of year. This one is nothing original, it’s not groundbreaking, and is a remake of a French film from 2011 called “The Intouchables.” It’s all based on a true story.
It involves a guy in Paris who was wealthy and got very seriously injured, becoming a quadriplegic. He then was suicidal and saw nothing to live for, and hired a guy from the wrong side of the tracks, who became his inescapable companion. It’s about their friendship and how they help one another. This film adapts that story for the U.S.
Brian Cranston plays this very charismatic, quadriplegic billionaire who injured himself in a paragliding accident. He is imperious and impossible. Nicole Kidman plays his very efficient executive assistant who may or may not be harboring a secret crush on him.
The other major character is played by Kevin Hart, in by far his best dramatic performance. He plays a guy who gets released from prison, and to satisfy his parole officer, he has to get signatures on a form that says he’s been looking for a job. So he hears about this job for a quadriplegic, which he’s obviously not qualified for or interested in. But there’s something about him and his cheekiness and cleverness and wit.
He’s a caretaker who has to do everything, with a focus on catheters, which are not graphically depicted, thank God. But that part is very funny. If you’re allergic to saccharine, this is not the film for you.
One of the upsides of working as a reviewer is that every once and while you see a movie that you expect to be cloying and unwatchable. This is highly watchable. It’s hard to imagine anyone will regret seeing this film. You do feel better going out of the film than when you came in.