REVIEW: By-the-books ‘Upside’ has its moments

“Upside” is a film with both ups and downs, leaving the overall quality of this film about friendship somewhere in the middle.

The film follows the story of Dell Scott (Kevin Hart), a man out on parole, estranged from his family and looking for a new job. In his search, he crosses paths with Philip (Bryan Cranston), a billionaire who became disabled in an accident and is in need of a life auxiliary.

In a state of depression and with little care to who works for him, Philip decides to hire Dell. Despite both being unenthusiastic about the situation, the two eventually form a friendship which is explored through the rest of the picture.

“The Upside” has a story mostly built on clichés that most should be familiar with. While Philip is disabled, the movie’s focus between the two leads is more about financial class. Basically, there are the dynamics of a person living in poverty learning more about culture, while the more wealthy character gets to see the ‘charms’ of the common man’s perspective.

While much of the ground featured has been tread over before, there are some sequences here that can win a person over. Unfortunately, though, even with some fun feel good scenes, “The Upside” still has other detriments.

For example, the movie is a bit too long, coming in a few minutes over two hours when it didn’t really need to be. Related to this is a subplot in the second act that leads to an argument between the two characters which didn’t seem all that necessary.

Without a doubt, the best part of the film are the two main characters, thanks to some nice performances from Hart and Cranston. Hart especially shows off some good acting here, and it’s arguably the best performance he’s given in his film career.

Courtesy Escape Artists and STX Entertainment

Cranston, meanwhile, has some good moments and he does convincing work in the role he’s playing. His poor mental health, seemingly driven by his disability, is well portrayed and it deserves some credit. Plus, both Hart and Cranston have a really solid chemistry and their banter makes the movie’s best scenes work.

Not helping the overall product, though, is the character Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman. The character is written in such a one dimensional way and it really limits Kidman’s great talents.

“The Upside” is a largely paint-by-numbers picture and is rather shallow in terms of substance. The supporting cast is also given very little to do and the film goes on too long.

While it’s not a movie to rush out to theaters for, though, the two lead characters and some humorous, enjoyable moments make it worth streaming when it’s available at home. 2.9 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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