Time Out says
A quietly pitched turn from Bryan Cranston offers some relief from the trite social messaging of this Hollywood remake of a hit French comedy-drama.
It’s déjà vu as the life-affirming hit French comedy-drama The Intouchables, the true story of a bromance between a wealthy quadriplegic man and his black live-in nurse from the projects, gets the Hollywood treatment. This really is an incredibly cheesy remake—the original was already pretty cheesy—starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, doing their best with a script that cranks out all the odd-couple movie clichés.
It’s nicely acted though. Cranston plays billionaire investor Phillip, paralyzed from the neck down after a paragliding accident. When his secretary (Nicole Kidman) advertises for a caregiver, Phillip hires the least qualified candidate, Dell (Hart), for reasons thta are initially unclear. Not long out of prison, Dell only shows up at the interview to keep his parole officer happy. Is Phillip charmed by his humor and realness? Or because he suspects that Dell won’t ignore his Do Not Resuscitate order? A good deal of seen-it-before buddy comedy follows, as Phillip introduces Dell to highbrow culture, while Dell gets his boss high on marijuana. The script even steals that bit from Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts cries at the opera.
That’s not to say The Upside is a complete write-off. The two actors bounce off each like ping-pong balls. Cranston in particular, acting only with his face, brings humanity and intelligence to a flimsy part, and the movie is pretty funny in places. But there’s no ignoring the fact that the characters are based on unevolved racial stereotypes, and the suggestion—even in a crowd-pleasing comedy—that America’s racial divides can be bridged by Pavarotti and a joint is downright Stone Age.
Cast and crew