What does it mean to be disabled? The term describes someone who needs special care straightaway; however, the term is broad for many cases. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention defines a disability as “any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.” The conditions expand in many categories. There are the physical disabilities, such as loss of sight, hearing, or any loss of a body structures and its functions. There are also mental disabilities, such as ADHD, Autism and Bipolar Disorder to name a few.
Many seek help to adjust to a disability. For some, it comes from medications or therapies, while others ask for caregivers. There are many people who work as caregivers for people with disabilities. The caregiver works with a client’s condition and treatment, and they must have patience to rearrange the living conditions. Most of the work depends on the condition, but at the end of the day, the caregiver becomes a companion to the disabled. This January, STX Films invites you to a feel-good comedy where an unlikely friendship evolves between a disabled millionaire and his street-savvy caregiver.
After earning parole, Dell Scott, played by Kevin Hart, needs a job to get back on his feet. Though he is not dedicated to finding one, he needs to find a steady job to pay for child support and see his son. During his job hunting, he meets Phillip Lacasse, a quadriplegic business man and philanthropist played by Bryan Cranston. Phillip needs a caregiver, and out of all the qualified applicants, he chooses Dell, despite objections from his assistant Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman. With no experience in aiding anyone, Dell takes the job and soon the two battle in a clash of classes; but, along the way they develop a friendship showing how there is some good in life no matter how hard it gets.
This is not the first time this story has been told. In 2011, The Weinstein Company released a French film called The Intouchables, which tells the same story. This film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, along with winning multiple awards worldwide. The Upside is the English version of the story, and despite this is being the first time people hear it in English, it already has the reputation of not upholding to the original. That’s the situation with many revivals and remakes in the entertainment industry. To make a true story film credible, you must uphold the value of its original source. I would recommend seeing The Intouchables first before looking into other remakes of this story.
Whenever there is a film centered on a person’s disability, a common archetype is the behavior. When introduced, they are pessimistic and mean to the people who help. They do not show appreciation for anything because their lives were ruined by one thing, adapting to the belief if this ruined their life, then everything else will be just as bad. Fortunately, at the climax of the film, we see the character change and become a better person by the time the credits role. We see this in both Phillip and Dell. Both have been pushed around by life, becoming reclusive and miserable; however, this common ground helps form a friendship, teaching them to be open minded. They learn life is not an easy road to travel. It is filled with the unexpected and many trials. What The Upside teaches is no matter how bad life is, we must strive to find good of it all. If we have things in life that make us feel happy, such as good friends, a loving family and good health, then we have reason to get out of bed in the morning. None of it matters if you have something to care about. With things like friendship, family and romance, life is not as bad as it appears.
If there is one thing The Upside did right, it is finding a cast of A-List actors to lead. For starters, I could not get enough of the chemistry between Hart and Cranston providing the audience with so much laughter. Audiences mostly know Hart as an outrageous comedian. I thought he played the role of Dell very well with a lot of laughs and heart for a PG-13 movie. I also enjoyed the performance of Cranston, as many of us know him from the show Breaking Bad. Most of the time he had a stoic face, but his attitude towards his co-star made the film entertaining. I thought these two created a friendship many people wish to have.
My only concern with the cast involves the interactions between them. I thought the story is quick, especially when something funny would happen between the characters; however, I thought it made the story too fast when it comes to the mood of the story. At one point, the story is funny and entertaining, then in the blink of an eye, it becomes very sad and miserable up to a point. The movement of the story needed to slow down to show more effective transitions between scenes.
In conclusion, 2019 kicks off to a good start as audiences are introduced to The Upside. It is a feel-good comedy about life and how to enjoy it. I admire Hart for taking one step out of his comfort zone in playing a dramatic role, while also providing a wholesome sense of humor. With that said I am giving The Upside a rating of 7/10 and I would recommend seeing this movie on a day when a person needs a little pick me up. Life is filled with many trials and tribulations, but it’s important to remember to always look on the upside.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay, Pexels
Edited by Kaitlin Flippo