Isn’t it strange that The Upside is the third international remake of the colossally successful French film The Intouchables? Argentina and India already had their versions, and this American spin with Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, and Nicole Kidman has been sitting on the shelf for nearly two years. Two years!
Perhaps that’s why Nicole Kidman is in this thing, because post-Big Little Lies, why would you do this to yourself, Nicole? This can only have been a film she shot before the HBO behemoth. (… I hope.)
TK did not care for The Upside, which I can co-sign — it is a tedious movie that is curiously lacking in emotional impact. But maybe you’re bored this weekend. Maybe you want to check out a movie, no matter what it is. Maybe you are addicted to movie theater popcorn and you demand that buttery goodness. I DON’T KNOW YOUR LIFE.
But if you want to determine whether The Upside is a movie you should watch, let me be your guide. TAKE MY FUN QUIZ! (Honestly, this is more of a reader’s guide. I don’t have that sweet BuzzFeed quiz-making technology. WHO HAS THE BUDGET FOR THAT?)
Some SPOILERS ahead for The Upside, by the way. Let’s Bandersnatch this motherfucker!
FIRST QUESTION: Are you a fan of Kevin Hart?
If you answer YES: OK, keep reading, I guess. But, did you know that you’re here? At Pajiba? Where we haven’t looked too favorably upon Hart’s inability to apologize for his homophobic tweets and behavior? … OK, just checking.
If you answer NO: Liking Hart is not a requirement for this piece. You can also keep reading!
SECOND QUESTION: Are you impressed by material possessions, like Ferraris and fancy modern artwork and personal chefs? Do you need those elements in your movie because you want Petr to hate you?
If you answer YES: Dude! Why do you want Petr to hate you? I thought y’all were thirsty for him! (KEEP READING.)
If you answer NO: Too bad, because everyone in The Upside is impressed by wealth! The movie doesn’t truly acknowledge that while some people have money, others don’t; we briefly see Kevin Hart’s former partner and son in an apartment that is literally falling down around them, but otherwise the movie is spent in Cranston’s character’s penthouse. His Phillip Lacasse is some sort of positive-thinking investment guru who has pivoted toward art collecting after becoming quadriplegic, and he has paintings, rare books, sports cars, and other elite items that demonstrate he’s “richer” than Jay-Z. Capitalism, baby! (KEEP READING.)
THIRD QUESTION: But why is Nicole Kidman?
Uh, maybe because The Upside used to be a Weinstein joint, and she had just been in Weinstein’s successful Lion alongside Dev Patel? Or maybe because no one saw Queen of the Desert and she needed to fill a gap in her schedule? I DON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS. I’M SORRY. (KEEP READING.)
FOURTH QUESTION: I asked already if you’re a fan of Kevin Hart, but here’s another spin on that: Do you think he’s funny?
If you answer YES: If you’re already a Hart fan (hello! you stuck around, thanks!), then … yeah, I guess so. Hart does his typical motormouthed inappropriate thing, flirting with everyone — in particular Phillip’s doctor, played by Golshifteh Farahani, who deserves better than this — and making a lot of sexually themed jokes and, you know, doing homophobic shit. I mean, you knew this was coming, right? You KNEW. So you can skip on over to the NO answer for more details on that.
If you answer NO: The most “of course” moment related to Hart’s character Dell is when it’s time to change Phillip’s catheter. Touch another man’s … penis? OH NO! In fact, Dell can’t even say the word “penis.” It makes him uncomfortable, and he makes some comments about not wanting to touch another guy or give him “mouth to mouth,” but at this point his character has formed a bit of a bond with Phillip, but then Phillip starts becoming engorged, and that freaks out Dell EVEN MORE because oh no, that flaccid penis became turgid! MIND-EXPLOSION EMOJI!
The whole overly long, very uncomfortable scene is a trip. And by trip I mean it is homophobic and not funny! (Dell eventually puts the catheter in. He and Phillip act all bashful and weird when Yvonne comes into the room to ask what they’re doing. “Oh no, hope she didn’t think we were doing anything gay!” is practically in cartoon text bubbles over Hart’s and Cranston’s heads.
FIFTH QUESTION: Do you want your heart to be warmed?
If you answer YES: OK, then don’t see The Upside! Maybe stay home and watch GBBO! Or watch that Lindsay Lohan beach club show and read Mieka’s review! Seriously! I think anything would be more inspirational than this film!
If you answer NO: Let’s check if you’re a cold-hearted monster: Early in the film, Dell realizes that he needs to pace himself when feeding Phillip yogurt with kumquats and granola (I am so hungry, BTW), otherwise, Phillip will get all messy. When he wipes Phillip’s face, that moment is used to demonstrate that Dell has never done anything for anyone else before, and so this is personal growth. Later in the film, when Dell connects with his estranged son, and he, Phillip, and the young teen are all eating ice cream together, Dell then wipes his son’s face of a splotch of ice cream. Just like he did for Phillip! Because he’s LEARNED and ADVANCED as a MAN.
… You felt nothing about that? Join the club! Welcome! Dues must be paid in the blood of innocents!
SIXTH AND FINAL QUESTION: Did you watch The OC?
If you answer YES: UM GOOD ME TOO GUESS WHAT MARISSA’S DEADBEAT DAD JIMMY COOPER IS IN THIS THING. UM, REAL NAME: TATE DONOVAN.
He’s an asshole in this movie, playing one of Phillip’s similarly rich neighbors who is aghast that Dell is in their building, tries to get him fired by bringing up his prison time, and then actually spends $50,000 on a painting that Dell created when Phillip tricks him into buying it. If this whole movie had just been Phillip and Dell pranking Jimmy Cooper, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. What a bummer.
If you answer NO: You were never in the OC, bitch? GO FIX THAT PART OF YOUR LIFE. SPEND SOME TIME WATCHING MARISSA AND RYAN AND SETH AND SUMMER. Literally any episode you watch will probably be better than The Upside. More dramatically developed! More poignantly acted! With a better soundtrack! I could keep going!
For real though, don’t see The Upside.