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The Upside - Blu-ray Review

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The Upside - Movie Review

The Upside is a remake of the 2011 French film called The Intouchables which was about the real life story of a wealthy quadriplegic and the man hired to take care of him. Despite its lazy storytelling and corny sentimentality, that film went on to bring in upwards of $300 million in Europe and became one of the most successful in French history.

With that kind of success, it should surprise no one that Hollywood would try to funny it up, re-brand with a leading cast, and otherwise put the American spin on it. But what is surprising is how funny, poignant, and ingratiating this new version is. In fact, Neil Burger’s The Upside is a better film.

The Upside is an odd couple buddy story ultimately about bridging our divisions and understanding the impact people can have on each others’ lives. It stars Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Phillip Lacasse, a quadriplegic millionaire who lost his wife to cancer and was paralyzed in an accident and has since holed himself up in his lavish Park Avenue suite with Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) tending to his daily business matters.

"The Upside is an odd couple buddy story ultimately about bridging our divisions and understanding the impact people can have on each others’ lives."


But he needs someone to take care of him. You know, someone to do things like change the bed sheets, feed and bathe him, lift him in and out of his wheelchair, and someone with the strength, fortitude, and boldness of character to change his urinary catheter.

And luck would have it that ex-con and ne’er-do-well Dell Scott (Kevin Hart, Night School) needs a job.

You guessed it, Phillip hires Dell in spite of his lack of experience and in spite of the fact that Dell was only looking to get a job search signature for his parole officer. And you also guessed that the two eventually hit it off and become best of buds. But it is the stuff that happens in between that makes it such a delightfully charming and oftentimes hilarious little film.

Efficiently directed with a thorough understanding of the brilliance that is happening between Cranston and Hart on screen, Burger wisely stands back and lets the two actors work their magic. And the shared chemistry between the two plays out in a way that is downright gut-busting at times yet always emotionally satisfying. And that’s what is often so difficult to pull off in a film like this – equal doses of humor and heart without overdoing either. Burger nails it.

This role is quite the departure for Hart and gives the audience an opportunity to see his more dramatic chops. That’s not to say he isn’t funny, however. He often has us doubled over in laughter with his signature slapstick sight gags, facial contortions, and machine-gun banter. But he unquestionably turns in his deepest, most distinct performance to date. Cranston, strapped with having to pull off a worthy performance with only facial expressions, is also up to the challenge, as is Kidman whose Yvonne never quite trusts Dell’s intentions, but realizes she must do as her boss demands.

And then there’s the magical way that newcomer Jon Hartmere’s script makes us sympathize with a couple of miserable cads who have estranged themselves from friends and family to the point of near isolation. Dell’s baby mama – who has custody of their teenaged son – wants nothing to do with him while Phillip’s moods range wildly from anger to depression to apathy and indifference. Yet, as the film hops briskly along, we slowly begin to sympathize with both of them.

The Upside - Movie Review

Dell and Phillip’s relationship takes a trajectory familiar to most buddy comedies; they initially can’t stand one another, eventually come to an understanding, have a falling out, then realize that they both rely equally on each other. As different as their life struggles are, it is their ability to learn from one another that ultimately builds and strengthens a true and incredibly one-of-a-kind friendship.

The themes explored in The Upside are certainly nothing new, and neither is Burger’s film particularly stylish, uniquely structured, or earth-shattering in its singularity. Yet for a remake of a French film that has been run through the Hollywood filmmaking machine that we all know has a unique ability to really screw things up, this one certainly could have been much, much worse.

3 stars

The Upside - Movie Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- May 21, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH; Spanish
Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; iTunes digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Universal Pictures presents The Upside with a glorious 1.85:1 1080p transfer that sparkles with life and vigor. Despite most of its scenes taking place indoors, there is a lot of brilliant color that comes across quite nicely in the transfer. This blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD edition comes with a BD-disc, a DVD copy, a digital code that can be redeemed with your Apple iTunes account, and a handful of deleted scenes, extra features, a gag reel, and more.

Though the film does touch on some heartfelt messages and earnest life lessons, things never get too heavy and always stays light, airy, and funny. There isn't a very high re-watchability factor with this one as it is mostly follows the mainstream A-to-B filmmaking method. Neither is it necessarily a release that is going to show off your home theater system's capabilities. But if you are a fan of the movie, this would be a good one to add to your collection as there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments between Hart and Cranston.

Video

There is a slight but noticeable grain effect added to the transfer, and while I'm not typically a fan, it actually works quite nicely here, giving a classic filmic quality to the proceedings. Though the film is a mostly talk-y affair that spends much of its time inside the lavish Park Avenue Suite of Phillip LaCosse (Bryan Cranston), there is, surprisingly, lots of color throughout provided by the rich, lavish wood grain paneling, and modern sculptures. One scene in particular comes alive with color as Kevin Hart's character takes a shower inside one of those fully-automated rain shower thingies. The scene is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but it also features some much-welcomed pops of color from the blue mood lighting inside the shower. It's beautiful!

Audio

On the audio front, there is not a whole lot going on with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue stays mostly front and center and is always clear and audible. We are occasionally treated to a few Motown numbers and some classic Opera arias that ramp up to full impact while the throaty sounds of fancy sports cars can be heard working the room. Not a fault of the transfer, but nothing particularly spectacular here.

Supplements:

On the Bonus Features front, The Upside comes with two short deleted scenes, a Gag Reel, five very brief featurettes, and the film's theatrical trailer.

Commentary:

  • None.

Special Features:

  • Gag Reel (03:16) - A three minute montage of bloopers, outtakes, gaffs, and overall silliness that plays under Aretha Franklin's Think.

Deleted Scenes

  • Bedside Manner (01:13)
  • Tough Room (01:07)

Featurettes

A series of very, very brief (most are less than one minute in length) fluff pieces that often repeat material throughout but touch lightly on some behind-the-scenes conversations and interviews. They are intercut with scenes from the film and feel as if they are broken up from a much longer more in-depth featurette. Don't think we're not onto you padding the disc, Universal. You can skip these.

  • Onscreen Chemistry: Kevin and Bryan (01:02)
  • Creating a Story of Possibility (00:45)
  • Bridging Divisions (00:44)
  • Embracing Positivity (00:41)
  • Presenting a Different Side of Kevin Hart (00:48)

Trailer

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

The Upside - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use.
Runtime:
125 mins
Director
: Neil Burger
Writer:
Jon Hartmere
Cast:
Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman
Genre
: Comedy | Drama
Tagline:
Based on a true story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Oh, she's from Buffalo? She's gonna be heavy."
Theatrical Distributor:
STX Entertainment
Release Date:
January 11, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 21, 2019.
Synopsis: A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who's hired to help him.

The Upside - Movie Review

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