Comedy Drama

'The Upside' TIFF 2017 Review: The upside of unnecessary remakes

September 25, 2017Siobhán Finn

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano should feel very pleased with themselves. Starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, director Neil Burger’s The Upside is a flattering remake of Nakache and Toledano’s 2011 French film, The Intouchables.

Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) is attempting to hire a caregiver for her quadriplegic employer, Phillip (Cranston). Having given up on life since he was in a hang gliding accident following the death of his wife, Phillip insists on hiring ex-con Dell (Hart) because he is the least-qualified candidate. Dell uses hot dogs and the music of Aretha Franklin to remind his new employer how to enjoy life, and as billionaire Phillip learns how to experience happiness again, he returns the favor by introducing Dell to the joys of opera and expensive cars.

Ignoring the uninspired look at racial politics, Burger’s almost shot-for-shot direction is enjoyable enough, especially when the chemistry between Cranston and Hart delivers a bromance that exceeds the original. With many great foreign films being prepped to receive the Hollywood treatment, The Upside is a bland blueprint on how to do so.

The Upside is receiving its world premiere as part of TIFF 2017's Gala Presentations programme. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 6 min.

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