Review: ‘The Upside’: Reminds Audiences to Live

Most Kevin Hart films arriving in theaters are heavily promoted. Surprisingly enough I only heard about The Upside over this past week. The film is not one I felt would keep me on my toes as far as laughter was concerned. I was positive that by the end of the film I was going to be that girl sobbing in theater among a handful of fellow movie goers. I was wrong on many accounts. Not only was the showing I attended one of the fullest screenings I’ve seen in a while, but I also found myself laughing at the film far more than I could have imagined.

The Upside is about a wealthy quadriplegic man, Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston), who hires a man with a criminal record, Dell Scott (Kevin Hart), to become his life auxiliary in his time of need. Over time Lacasse and Scott form an untouchable bond. While Scott did not find himself amounting to much in life within his criminal record, Lacasse saw the untapped potential in Scott. Throughout the film the two push each other so that Lacasee does not give up on his zest for life and for Scott to realize he can be more and become a better man for his son.

Many poignant moments within the feature between Scott and Lacasee remind us that everyone deserves to have their voice heard. We are also reminded that there’s such a thing as a second chance in life. Just because we are made to believe one thing does not mean that we cannot overcome with the right attitude. Will our live be exactly as it was before? No, but plenty of people in our lives are willing to continue to make it better and allow us to soar to new heights. Sometimes we truly need these people by our sides. This is not to merely take care of us, but to bring to light aspects of ourselves that we forget existed deep within ourselves.
As far as performances go, this is Hart’s best performance to date. His acting abilities shine through alongside the comedic timing only he can produce. I cannot imagine anyone else playing Scott other than Hart. I can also say the same about Cranston as Lacasee. The duo provide a chemistry on screen that truly touches us in moments even when we want to feel the anger that he characters are feeling. The best part of the film though is the reminder that it’s okay to feel the way we feel. We are reminded that we should get out those emotions instead of merely masking them around others.  The most important message we receive from the film however is that we should live our lives to the fullest no matter what circumstances we have been dealt in life.

We also learn that no matter how much we try to push others away that sometimes those same people we push out are the ones there who will come back. They might take the space eventually, but overall these people are in our lives for the duration of the remainder of what we have left. In many ways all the characters shine in that regard, but I would be remiss if I did not talk about Kidman’s role within the feature.  She shines as a pseudo caregiver and quintessential best friend and potential life partner to Lacasee. Yvonne (Kidman) is a character we all understand because we have all been there. There’s always someone in our lives that we will drop everything for and merely be there no questions asked, and sometimes we are lucky enough to have others in our lives that ask those questions for us.

In many ways, The Upside makes us wonder the what ifs in life. What if we were in the same position as Lacasee?  Who would we want to care for us for the rest of our lives?  This is not an easy decision by any means.  The truth is this has to be a person that allows us to feel something again.  They bring out the very best in us that we forgot existed in the first place.  The odd part in this case is that the person who starts out at as pessimist morphs into the optimist that must bring a man who once saw the world as his oyster to a reality that he can continue to do so once more.  While sometimes we cannot help but laugh due to the dialogue, we also remember in this film that it is important to laugh.  If we cannot laugh at the worst parts of life we won’t be able to truly appreciate the moments where our laughter should shine through either.

Ultimately, Cranston and Hart brings an emotional edge to a film I was certain would leave me bawling by the end. Instead I found myself charged and ready to focus on my to-do list of the year and each item I add daily.  While we must build ourselves up a little at a time, The Upside teaches us that we can do anything with a good friend by our side.  A devoted friend that would do anything for us and in turn we would do anything for them.