Everything about “The Upside” is made up and dummy, like the movie version of an inspiring but dummy anecdote your Aunt shared on Facebook. Which is impressive, considering it’s a true story.
Of course, this is rather a remake of the French film “The Untouchables”, itself inspired by a documentary about a wealthy Parisian Quadriplex who hired an unqualified French-Algerian ex-cheat as a supervisor; the inauthenticity that afflicts “the Upside” could have crept in at any moment during this telephone game (and many people thought that “The Untouchables” was at first a superficial tide).
This Version directed by Neil Burger (“Divergent”, “Limitless”) from a script by First responder Jon Hartmere, Kevin Hart plays the role of Dell Scott, a rude probation officer with a bad attitude who does not want A job as much as he wants signatures from potential employers showing that he tried to get a job to appease his probation officer. Dell thinks he’s applying for a janitor position and rushes into a Park Avenue Penthouse, where grumpy quadruplex Tycoon Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) and his manager Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) are interviewing full-time janitors, complaining about the wait and asking for a signature so he can get out. Over Yvonne’s exhausting and motivated objections, Phillip Dell offers the janitor job.
Dell, self-centered and emotionally atrophied (note: the Film doesn’t realize this; the Film thinks he’s a nice bad guy who strike from the hip), is not qualified to take care of a quadriplegic man, and he refuses to perform some of the work-related tasks. He accepts the job because of the salary, but that doesn’t explain why Phillip offered it or why Yvonne let him keep it. The implication is that Phillip, who was wounds in a paragliding accident and lost his wife to cancer, chose the worst candidate because he just wants to die. But it only comes implicitly and doesn’t feel plausible even then.
The rest is just as contrived, peppered with crazy comic moments as Dell, surprised by the High-Tech shower in his bathroom, Dell, who refuses to change Phillis’ catheter or even say the word “penis”, Dell mercilessly drives around Manhattan with Phillip in the passenger seat and tells the policemen that they are rushing to the hospital. Phillip gradually has a new life attributed to the influence of Dell, although it is difficult for me to cite an example that Dell is useful. Dell comes to share Phillip’s love for Opera (after talking and laughing and browbeat to hit people who dare to calm him down) and recovers alimony from his Ex-wife, but doesn’t really change in another way. He never realizes what A-hole he is, and in the end he claims he is the most qualified candidate because he and Phillip have become friends. This is a story about an foolish who learns nothing, disguised as a comforting story of contrasts – attracting friendship.
Perhaps it would have been better to focus on the character who is evolving, whose emotions are relatable and who acts more or less like a real person. But despite a game performance made by Cranston, Phillip is a support player in his own life. Even the things in him, probably based on facts, like his love of opera, feel like filmy clichés. It goes without saying that the realities of being paralyzed from the neck down are not addressed significantly. It’s weak stuff all the way, a spoonful of flavorless Jell-O that you should find delicious just because it went through the motions.