The Upside: With Friends Like These…

Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in “The Upside”

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.

Published by

Bill Newcott

Award-Winning Film Critic, Columnist, TV Host and Creator of AARP's Movies For Grownups, Bill writes for publications including National Geographic, The Saturday Evening Post, Delaware Beach Life, Alaska Beyond and Northwest Travel.

2 thoughts on “The Upside: With Friends Like These…”

  1. Just saw this on HBO with no preconceptions. Looked up rotten tomatoes and saw their excerpt of your precise, and exceptionally compact and accurate review compelled me to look further. Not disappointed. You got to the important point quickly about friendship in unexpected places… while trouncing PC virtue signalling excellently. All that in 4 tiny paragraphs. If I was a rich man I’d hire you to review every movie for my attention. As something else, I appreciate you as an MVP in advancing our human experience. This makes me think: it helps to be recognized but the work is the reward.


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