The Upside Review - Vulture Vulture.com - Fri 11 Jan 17:28 GMT
Starring Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, and Nicole Kidman, The Upside is the kind of movie whose greatest virtue is that it’s not as bad as it could be.
In this New York–set version of the original story, the billionaire is Phillip (Bryan Cranston), and the ex-con who unintentionally winds up in his employ is Dell (Kevin Hart).
After a flash-forward prologue that adds nothing other than an acknowledgement that a “later” exists (a tic that’s becoming all too common in movies, and an easy way to feign narrative complexity) the film begins with Phillip looking for a new life auxiliary.
Hackier stories have tried to bridge those differences with mere servitude or sex, but the sight of Cranston being lifted like a rag doll by Hart into the shower begs more questions about privilege — the degree of Phillip’s physical limitations and the extreme body-and-soul ask of Dell’s job are intertwined.
Phillip says he likes Dell because he’s the only person who doesn’t look at him with pity — Dell is too gobsmacked by his new employer’s opulent penthouse to even consider feeling sorry for the wheelchair-bound Phillip.
The whole film seems geared to an idea that Dell’s poverty and bawdy sense of humor and lack of opera literacy is more true, that his body physically contains something that Phillip’s is missing, that can bring him “back to life.”