The Upside is an Americanized remake of the 2011 French smash hit The Intouchables, which, in turn, is inspired by the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and his French-Algerian caregiver Abdel Sellou. The Intouchables is a solid comedy-drama and a remake wasn't really necessary, but, as it is, The Upside is a pleasant enough film in its own right.
In The Upside, Bryan Cranston plays wealthy paraplegic Phillip Lacasse, who needs a 24/7 caregiver. Much to the displeasure of his stern assistant, Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), Phillip picks Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) for the job – an ex-con with no prior experience. Of course, the two men form an unlikely friendship that affects both of their lives.
Surprisingly, The Upside doesn't go for either corny melodrama or sitcom style shenanigans. Director Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) goes for a low-key approach – may be too low-key at times, but that's far better than a sugary affliction-of-the-week movie. It's the undeniable chemistry between Hart, Cranston and Kidman that makes the movie work. Hart, however, is the real surprise here. He's known as a comedic actor, but he takes a dramatic turn here with ease. The performance comes across as natural and not at all forced.
Yeah, The Intouchables is the better movie, but The Upside isn't so bad. It's a respectable remake.