FILM REVIEW: THE UPSIDE (12A)
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CAST: KEVIN HART, BRYAN CRANSTON, NICOLE KIDMAN, TATE DONOVAN, AJA NAOMI KING, GOLSHIFTEH FARAHANI, JAHI DI’ALLO WINSTON & JULIANNA MARGULIES
RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 6 MINS
DIRECTOR: NEIL BURGER
This heartwarming ‘bromance’ doesn’t take many risks – but pleasantly coasts through on the charm of its two leads.
When ‘fresh out of jail’ thief Dell Scott (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s Kevin Hart) needs to find work to win back the favour of his neglected son (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) –and show his former wife (Aja Naomi King) his reformed ways – he fortuitously stumbles across a carer position for quadriplegic billionaire widower Phil Lacasse (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston).
The grumpy fiftysomething – who has made his fortune by writing about turning failing businesses around – levitates towards Dell when he seems to offer up brutal honesty, compared to the ‘sucking up’ approach of the other more-qualified candidates.
His appointment comes to the chagrin of Phil’s loyal, straight-laced and as ‘cold as ice’ assistant Yvonne (Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman) – who gives Dell three strikes to prove his worth.
What ensues is pretty much to be as expected. Various set-pieces that vary from providing light-hearted chuckles to seen-it-all-before predictability – but it never falters from being watchable.
And watching the bond grow between the previously ‘dead beat’ Dell and the ‘uber rich paralysed from the neck down after a paragliding accident’ Phil – who isn’t rich enough to buy baseball team the Yankees, but could the Mets (in an sporting reference that fans of American sport would get) – to the backdrop of New York, intermittently throws out a few tender moments as they both go through their personal turmoils.
A particular scene where Phil goes on a date with Julianna Margulies’ (ER) Lily can’t help you feel for his heartbreaking plight – as he’s struggles to move on from the death of wife to cancer.
Cranston puts in a typically strong as expected performance, but Hart also shows some acting range in his first ‘serious’ movie role after being more accustomed to the comedy circuit – with Kidman providing able cameo-esque support.
And what unfolds is something that sticks formulaically to type – but to while away a couple of hours there’s plenty of upsides to be had here too.