The Upside ****
January 8, 2019
Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart make a delightful odd couple in this based-on-fact buddy picture.
Cranston stars as a bitterly depressed Manhattan businessman who’s been paralyzed in an accident. Verging on suicidal, he hires a decidedly unqualified ex-con (Hart) as his caregiver, half-hoping the guy will accidentally kill him. Of course they get off to a rough start, but also of course they become the best of friends, learning from each other that life brings rewards no matter how the odds are stacked against you.
Nicole Kidman flits in and out as the long-suffering, Harvard-educated executive assistant who clearly has a thing for her oblivious boss.
Yes, the critics will howl that this is just another in a long line of Hollywood “Magic Negro” films, in which a benign Black character rescues a socially superior White person from himself while allowing the audience to wallow in self-deceptive pseudo-tolerance. To that I say pshaw. And balderdash. The Upside is about friendship, finding it in unexpected places, and surrendering to its irreplaceable charms.