Bryan Cranston stars along side Kevin Hart in a touching true story of a quadriplegic man named Philip and his caregiver, convicted felon, Dell. Surprisingly, The Upside quite good.
In a story that seems familiar (cough*Me Before You*cough), and a remake of a French film, The Upside explores the meaning of friendship and the reason for living. Bryan Cranston was phenomenal, as expected, but it was Hart who shone. Hart’s performance is a divergence from his usual loud comedic performance and shows incredible depth and heart.
As for the supporting roles, Nicole Kidman’s character fell shallow, and the film definitely failed the Bechdel test, but it was an appearance by Julianna Margulies that was most memorable. Additional support is seen by How To Get Away With Murder‘s Aja Naomi King who felt completely wrong for the role, and Tate Donovan who was almost completely unnecessary in the film.
While the argument for casting disabled actors in disabled roles continues to wage on, this film could have absolutely used a disabled actor in the lead role. There was zero reason for the role to be played by Cranston save for his name and recognition. Of course he was undeniably moving bringing this character to life, but there is no way of knowing whether a disabled actor could have done an equally compelling performance.
Regardless, Hart’s personal drama may overshadow the release of this movie, as well as Cranston’s recent comments about his decision to take this role, all of which will lead it to bomb at the box office.
So if you get a chance to see it on cable or stream it wherever it ends up, take the time to check out The Upside.
— Yael Tygiel