Blu-ray Review: The Upside

STUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: Neil Burger | CAST: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Golshifteh Farahani, Julianna Margulies
RELEASE DATE: May 21, 2019 | PRICE: DVD $17.96, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $22.98
SPECS: PG-13 | 126 min. | Comedy drama | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie  | Audio | Video | Overall

A remake of the French language 2011 hit The Intouchables, The Upside came out of nowhere to become the surprise hit of early 2019.

The film follows its precursor closely. The story centers on Dell (Kevin Hart, Get  Hard), a black ex-con who takes a job as a caregiver to Phillip (Bryan Cranston, Trumbo), a bitter, widowed multi-millionaire who has become a quadriplegic after a hang-gliding accident. Also serving as an aide for Phillip is Yvonne (Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole), his assistant, who has doubts about whether the street smart Dell will be able to meet the responsibilities of his new job or even get along with the sophisticated Phillip .

The top-notch cast does well with Hart adding impressive dramatic acting chops to his manic comic persona and Cranston excelling in a difficult, limiting part that forces him to express himself verbally and through subtle facial movement. Kidman is fine in an offbeat supporting role, and Julianna Margulies (City Island) and Golshifteh Farahani (Paterson) turn in what turn out to be extended cameos.

Set in New York city but shot primarily in the Philadelphia area, this simple, true-life story is well acted and professionally told with no shortage of manipulative moments. But The Upside was deemed by many to be DOA upon its release following a bumpy road to the screen. Helmed by Neil Burger (Limitless), the R-rated Weinstein Company project premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2017 to lukewarm response. After the Weinstein Company ceased operations, the film went AWOL from a release schedule until it was re-edited to a PG-13 rating by new distributors STX. As a surprise to most, it took in an impressive $122 million in the U.S. after being launched in theaters in January 2019. If ever there was a word-of-mouth hit, this was it.

The Upside’s success will no doubt follow it onto ancillary markets as audiences seem to really, really like this story and the chemistry and camaraderie between leads Hart and Cranston.

Buy or Rent The Upside

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.