This film is a remake apparently of a 2011 French film called The Intouchables, which I have never seen or even heard of until now. I had no idea this film was a remake as I sat in the theater waiting for it to start. But here’s the problem. That film seems to be a massive success, so this movie is getting trashed because it comes off as a money grab. The Upside on IMDB has a 3.9/10 rating, purely for the fact that it should not have been made.
I’m going to be real with you. Most people won’t watch the French version, that’s why this was made. And I’m going to review this without the knowledge that it’s based on a (seemingly) great foreign film. So… what did I think?
Dell (Kevin Hart) is on parole and must find a job. His wife (Aja Naomi King) and son (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) won’t speak to him because he’s unreliable and behind on child support. He’s having a rough go when he arrives at a job interview to become a “life auxiliary,” to take care of a man named Phillip (Bryan Cranston) who is a quadriplegic in need of assistance. Dell must learn how to take care of him and both of them learn some much-needed lessons. Phillip’s executive assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) doesn’t like Dell and thinks he’s unsuitable for the job, so the two have a bit of a rivalry when it comes to what’s best for Phillip.
I had an absolute blast here and this movie is surprising that it’s releasing in January, usually the home of horrible films.
Kevin Hart is the best we’ve ever seen. He manages to deliver one of his most sincere performances, as well as also one of his funniest. He didn’t need to resort to his wild antics though, he delivered authentic comedy that had me laughing from start to finish. It’s his finest performance, probably ever.
And he’s paired up with Bryan Cranston, who we expect to deliver a great performance, which he does. To be able to elicit this sort of emotion while only moving his neck and through speaking, it’s quite a feat. The pair of actors together have an incredible chemistry and they perfectly play off each other.
The miracle third ingredient is Nicole Kidman, who is having an incredible resurgence. While she is much more of a supporting role here, she is the glue that holds these two together. She offers subtlety and nuance that might fly under the radar when you notice what she’s doing, it’s actually quite incredible.
As a whole, this movie manages to walk a balance that is often tricky to nail. It’s got some big emotional punches and some real heart to it, yet it also had me laughing nonstop. While it’s getting backlash for being an unnecessary remake, I would say this is a pretty exceptional film on its own.
What doesn’t work?
Looking back, I very little to complain about. I’d say the only thing that didn’t really work was the ending of the film, which felt a little abrupt, considering the chain of events leading up to it. I was hoping for a “here’s the real people” sort of montage that we see with most true story films, but we didn’t get that.
Ignore the low scores you might see elsewhere and consider giving this a chance. Kevin Hart delivers his best performance ever, simultaneously delivering a dramatic and comedic performance that really surprises. And we get great performances from Cranston and Kidman, though that’s totally expected. If you want something uplifting, something interesting, and something definitely funny, check out The Upside.