Out of work and out on parole, estranged father Dell (Kevin Hart) needs three signatures to prove his willingness to work or face going back to prison. Chasing the remaining signature he mistakenly joins a round of interviews to be a carer to a quadriplegic millionaire Philip (Bryan Cranston). Again, the round peg in the square hole, Dell just wants a signature of attendance but instead Philip offers him the job.
… a refreshing exception to the rule.
Director Neil Burger’s American remake of the ‘Les Invisibles’ is a refreshing exception to the rule. Normally made on a just-for-profit basis, American remakes can often feel like hollow renditions of the foreign classics that inspired them. Not so, here. Whilst the story beats closely the follow the French original, a clear increase in budget has fortunately not lead to an increase in saccharine.
Bryan Cranston is dependably cranky as multimillionaire author Philip, whose detachment from life drains his assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman). However the elevation in this tale of mismatched intentions is Kevin Hart’s Dell. Defying your normal slapstick expectations and his customary vein of loud humour, Hart has instead brought his acting ‘A’ game. For when ‘The Upside’ switches from its comedic gears into dramatic mode, Hart shines, bringing a softened culture clash to Philip’s dry life.
Avoiding obvious plot-holes and temptingly easy paths to conclusion, ‘The Upside’ is that rare remake which can function unassisted with the original as a reference. Whilst not quite as grounded as ‘Les Invisibles’, ‘The Upside’ is a surprisingly subtle antidote to Hollywood’s rash of remakes every time the Foreign Oscar category is drawn up.
A confident movie with decent performances and unshackled of the necessity to underline each of its points, ‘The Upside’ is a film that will definitely surprise you as much as it entertains.