One of my favourite films of all time, is Scent of a Woman, about retired Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, whose blindness leaves him dissatisfied with his life. With the help of a young aide, he embarks on a tour of life’s pleasures before deciding to take his own life. I mention that film because the entire time watching The Upside, I couldn’t help but think of Scent of A Woman – specifically, how it does everything The Upside does, except better.
Granted, they aren’t the same film, but there are a number of similarities. The Upside features a recently paralysed author and investor named Phillip, played by Bryan Cranston, who hires a down-on-his-luck parolee named Dell, played by Kevin Hart, as his primary caretaker. The two form an unlikely relationship as Dell gives the depressed Phillip a new lease on life, while Phillip gives the directionless Dell a new-found sense of purpose.
It’s a fine film for anyone who is looking for a sweet story performed by some pretty good actors. Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart make the movie, with Hart giving the performance of his career. The problem is that the film almost feels rote. I’m not one to knock a film for being predictable, but there comes a point where it goes beyond a charming familiar. Not only is the story unremarkably formulaic, but the characters feel like stereotypes.
The Upside has its moments, no doubt. It’s a funny film for most of the second act as Dell and Phillip grow as friends, but it suffers from a lack of originality when it comes to its characters and story. It’s a shame, considering the film has some impressive cinematography and well balanced acting. I suppose that must be the titular ‘upside’.
Rating: Catch It On Cable.