Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 400-Word Review: The Upside

Despite the best efforts of its stars, there's no good reason this tired formula needed another movie.




Photo by David Lee / STXFilms
 

There’s a worthy debate raging about the racial politics of “Green Book,” the odd-couple dramedy about a black musician and a white chauffeur in the Jim Crow South. The newly anointed Golden Globe darling has been criticized for a reductive, pat take on American race relations.

If the people behind “Green Book” want to help their case, they should hope everyone sees “The Upside.” Next to “The Upside,” “Green Book” looks positively brilliant.

A tired fable from replacement-level director Neil Burger, “The Upside” concerns another unlikely friendship, between Phillip (Bryan Cranston), a quadriplegic billionaire, and Dell (Kevin Hart), a ne’er-do-well who accidentally ends up employed as the rich man’s caretaker.

A list of the cliches “The Upside” engages in — most of them problematic — would be longer than this review. You can probably assume most of the beats of the plot from a glance at the poster, but for the sake of clarity: Dell is down on his luck, recently out of prison and without regular access to his pre-teen son. Phillip is miserable learning to cope with his physical limitations after a paragliding accident. When Dell gets lost on his way to a job interview, Phillip appreciates the younger man’s caustic wit and offers him a gig.

Dell is skeptical but takes the job as a means to support his son. There are (extremely mild) cultural faux pas and uncomfortable personal-grooming hijinks. Dell teaches Phillip lessons about embracing life. Phillip teaches Dell lessons about ambition and wealth.

How long has this narrative been stale, I wonder? “Trading Places” is generally well-liked. So about 30 years?

“The Upside” is based on the French film “The Intouchables,” itself adapted from a true story. Perhaps an incredibly reductive tale of cross-cultural understanding is less alarming on the continent, but through an American lens, it looks like nothing so much as a lazy attempt to gloss over all manner of societal inequities with a wink and a smile. (To say nothing of the even more exhausted narrative of a street-wise black man who floats into the radius of a wealthy white man to teach him how to live and love, a structure that should’ve died with the 20th century.)

Cranston and Hart (and Nicole Kidman, in a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here role) do everything they can to find charm, but they’re trying to make a pie from rotten fruit. “The Upside” never should’ve been made.

My Rating: 3/10
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Get the Scoop on Up-and-Coming Crafters at Show and Sell

Taking place at Construction Junction, the spring pop-up market from Handmade Arcade will feature 30 local makers selling home decor, clothing and art.

The City's Free Grass Cutting Service is Back for Its Second Year

There’s four different ways to apply — do you qualify?

Kennywood Earns Designation as Certified Autism Center

With noise-cancelling headphones and sensory bags, park officials hope its summertime fun can be accessible for more families.

For Three Days, Sesame Street Will be in Pittsburgh

Kids can join Big Bird, Elmo and more Muppets as Sesame Workshop plans three days of events during a stop in Pittsburgh in June.

Penguins’ Lament: ‘To an Extent We Beat Ourselves’

The answer to a self-inflicted postseason sweep must begin with getting the players and their coach back on the same page regarding what’s required for survival in the playoffs.

Picklesburgh to Double in Size for Its Fifth Year

Nation’s top speciality food festival to spill out onto Ft. Duquesne Boulevard.

A Look at The Latest Restaurant Openings in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh says hello to Alta Via, Leo. A Public House, a new Milk Shake Factory location and more.

Is Your Pittsburgh Street on This Year's Road Repaving List?

The City of Pittsburgh has announced its street paving plan for 2019. You’re one click away from finding out if your street or route to work is on the list.

Downtown Pittsburgh Remains a Classic Rock Haven

PM intern Amanda Myers recounts the radio-rock adventures that life as a Downtown student has made possible.

The 400-Word Review: Master Z: Ip Man Legacy

The latest chapter in the Hong Kong martial-arts franchise gets a Pittsburgh release.

The 400-Word Review: The Curse of La Llorona

The latest chapter in the Conjuring franchise concerns a sinister spirit from folklore.

Details Shine in Metallic Hip-Hop Wedding

A graffiti-decorated cake, a sequined jacket for the groom and a violinist playing hip-hop covers wowed guests at this Strip District wedding.

New Restaurants Coming to Smallman Galley and Federal Galley

Look for New Mexican cuisine, customizable chicken and more as half of the Pittsburgh Galley Group concepts change in the next few months.

Design Goes to the Dogs with BARKitecture

Featuring innovative indoor animal shelters designed by local architects and artists going up for auction, the event at PerLora raises money for Animal Friends.

The 400-Word Review: Hellboy

The cult comic character gets a reboot in this R-rated action flick.