Landon Hilst | Echo
You won't want to miss the perfect uplifting narrative to remedy those post-spring break blues.
"The Upside" delivers one of the most heartwarming stories of the year so far and easily stands as one of the funniest. The film follows the disillusioned life of Dell Scott (Kevin Hart), a failing husband and father who struggles to find work within New York City. Striking out at every turn, Dell defeatedly goes through his days blind to the impact his lack of care has on the people that depend on him.
Enter Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston), a rich businessman who experienced a terrible accident leaving him a quadriplegic. Lacasse remains confined to a wheelchair because of his immobile arms and legs. Although his vast wealth has allowed him to live a luxurious life, he still suffers with the emotional damage left behind from the accident. When Dell stumbles into a job interview with Lacasse, Lacasse instantly takes a liking to Dell's fearless waltz through life's crazy curveballs and hires Dell to be his caretaker.
The performances captured by director Neil Burger ("Limitless") leave little doubt as to the film's greatest aspect. Cranston once again presents how masterful of an actor he can be, even with the restriction of zero movement from the neck down. Kevin Hart pleasantly surprises in a role that is largely a departure from the goofy leading man audiences may be used to. Together, the duo make a powerful comedic team and their scenes shine brightest when a the actor's show their own fun personalities through Dell and Lacasse's characters.
Nicole Kidman also stars in the film as Lacasse's assistant Yvonne Pendleton, rounding out a trio who have terrific onscreen chemistry. Cranston and Hart effortlessly bounce off of each other in the comedic moments as well as in the more mature aspects of Dell and Lacasse's relationship. While a funny movie to be sure, in order to bring attention to life's upsides, the filmmakers had to portray some of the downsides as well. The film doesn't shy away from dealing with grim themes like tragedy, rejection and even divorce.
Adding these themes alongside the comedy creates a more diverse film experience, but the transition from funny to serious feels somewhat disjointed at times. The editing of certain scenes makes the movie feel longer than it needs to be. At two hours and six minutes long, "The Upside" would benefit from shaving some of these scenes down to achieve a more streamlined film, a painful criticism for a movie that is full of great, memorable moments.
While not a perfect movie, "The Upside" is wildly enjoyable and certainly carries some of the most underrated performances of the year for a score of 4 out of 5 stars. Each of the characters possess believable flaws that people can relate to, but they help each other overcome those weaknesses to find the hidden happiness in their lives. It serves as a good reminder to never undervalue the impact that people can have on each other.
"The Upside" is still currently in theaters and is rated PG-13.