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The Upside (2019)

Jake Lipson

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Title: The Upside

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Neil Burger

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Aja Naomi King, Golshifteh Farahani, Genevieve Angelson, Suzanne Savoy, Rachel Alana Handler, Junnie Lopez, Pia Mechler, Tate Donovan, Amara Karan, Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Ursula Triplett, Mark Kochanowicz, Annie Pisapia, Phillip Chorba, Alisha Poland, Julie Stackhouse, Lyman Chen, Gary Ayash, Jennifer Butler, Laura Hart, Jeffrey Mowery, Rachel Christopher, Madeleine Woolner, Charmar Jeter, Matthew D'Arcy, Brian Gallagher, Charles W Harris III, Nikki Corinne Thomas, Gemma McIlhenny

Release: 2019-01-11

Runtime: 123

Plot: A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy paraplegic and a unemployed man with a criminal record who's hired to help him.

 

Jake Lipson

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This is the English-language remake of the French blockbuster The Intouchables.

It should have been released this past March through The Weinstein Company, but we all know what derailed that from happening. STX Entertainment has picked it up now in a distribution deal with Lantern Entertainment, which bought TWC'ss remains.

The Intouchables happens to be one of my favorite movies ever made. That being said, I'm not sure this movie needs to exist and I'm more than a little skeptical of it, but it does, so I'm more curious than not. And that trailer looks like it might actually be good, which is a pleasant surprise. I certainly want it to be good and am looking forward to finally seeing it in January.

At the very least, it will bring the story to a wider audience in America than embraced the original, which only made $10 million here despite being a huge hit elsewhere with $416 million from its release internationally.
 

Jake Lipson

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Is no one else seeing this this weekend? Since no one responded to the thread I created for it back in October when the trailer dropped, I guess interest isn't too high for it around here. But it's opening at #1 and knocking off Aquaman in the process, so apparently it's connecting with moviegoers.

I am seeing it tomorrow night (well, technically tonight since it's after midnight now...)
 

Robert Crawford

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I'm not a big fan of Kevin Hart films. I will definitely see it as one of my A-List selections.
 

benbess

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I liked this movie a lot. I laughed and was emotionally moved. It was the first movie I'd ever seen with Kevin Hart as far as I remember, and I thought he did a good job. And Bryan Cranston was very good. I'm probably the only person on here who did not see Breaking Bad, because the subject of that show just didn't appeal to me, but I thought he was really good in this. Although this got mixed to negative reviews, it really worked for me: "A-"
 
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Robert Crawford

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I liked this movie a lot. I laughed and was emotionally moved. It was the first movie I'd ever seen with Kevin Hart as far as I remember, but I thought he did a good job. And Bryan Cranston was very good. I'm probably the only person on here who did not see Breaking Bad, because the subject of that show just didn't appeal to me, but I thought he was really good in this. Although this got mixed to negative reviews, it really worked for me: "A-"
You're not the only one.:blush:
 

Jake Lipson

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I'm not a big fan of Kevin Hart films.

Me either. In fact, when he was announced for this role, my first thought was, "Ugh, does it have to be him?" However, I like the original film so much that I can't skip this one. I'm too curious to see what they've done.

Showtimes being what they are, though, I've decided to see another film tonight which I suspect might not last very long at my arthouse, and I'll save this one for $5 Tuesday at my big theater.
 

Josh Steinberg

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If you go into Breaking Bad expecting The Best Thing Ever, you will be disappointed. Almost nothing could live up to the kind of hype that's been around that show.

However, if you go into it not expecting the Best Thing Ever, but just expecting it to be what it is, you'll probably enjoy it. And what is it? It's an above average made-for-cable serialized drama with all of the pluses and minuses that entails, from shorter seasons that tend to have smaller episode counts, to violence and language that are stronger than broadcast but less so than premium cable, with a noteworthy lead performance and quality supporting performances.

Despite all of the hype, and despite me enjoying the show tremendously, I do not believe it to be the groundbreaking endeavor that all of the hype might lead you to believe. If you go into it expecting to be this mythical unicorn of a show that is unlike anything that has ever be done, you'll probably be disappointed when you notice that it's like quite a few other things that have been done. But if you're just expecting a good TV show with some good performances, you'll probably enjoy it.
 

Jake Lipson

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Back when I was in college, before the whole of Breaking Bad was on Netflix and before it seemed like everyone was watching it, a friend of mine brought his DVDs over to my dorm room and said we would have a "marathon" one night to catch me up. We barely got through the first episode before he said he had to leave because he was going home the following day. When I asked if I could borrow the DVDs to finish, he declined because he had promised to take it home so that his family could watch it. This was probably 8 or 9 years ago. Since then, I've never gotten back into it. I should.

I've never gotten back into it, but have liked Bryan Cranston in a few of his movie performances before and am looking forward to seeing what he does in The Upside. I think he is a fantastic actor and his involvement in the movie almost makes up for Kevin Hart being in it in terms of my want-to-see factor.
 

Jake Lipson

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Me Before You.

I get why you would think that, but they are not going to be similar if The Upside is anything like The Intouchables (the French original that it remakes.)

Speaking as a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair, Me Before You is extremely problematic and presents its disability narrative in a negative light. that I found both extremely offensive and dangerous The Intouchables is to me one of the gold standard films about disability ever made, and it's all about how they approach the material.

Not that you asked, but since Me Before You is the worst film I've ever seen, I've got to link to my review of it for further discussion of why it is bad. The Intouchables (and hopefully The Upside) are the antidote for its portrayal of the disabled community.

https://www.dvdizzy.com/mebeforeyou-film.html

(I'm sorry if this post comes off as an attack on you, which just to be clear is not my intent; I love talking movies with you. But Me Before You just really gets under my skin for reasons described at the link above.)
 
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Adam Lenhardt

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Speaking as a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair, Me Before You is extremely problematic and presents its disability narrative in a negative light. that I found both extremely offensive and dangerous The Intouchables is to me one of the gold standard films about disability ever made, and it's all about how they approach the material.

Not that you asked, but since Me Before You is the worst film I've ever seen, I've got to link to my review of it for further discussion of why it is bad. The Intouchables (and hopefully The Upside) are the antidote for its portrayal of the disabled community.
I've seen a lot of complaints about Me Before You (to the point of organized protests when it came out in theaters). Obviously I don't share your perspective of having a physical disability that requires the use of a wheelchair and the assistance of others for some daily activities, and I acknowledge up front that my position might different if I were in your shoes.

But I always thought the oft repeated criticism of that film by some people with disabilities and their advocates reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of that movie. The movie isn't endorsing Will's position. It fundamentally disagrees with Will's position, which is entirely wrapped up in who he was before his accident, and how he defined his self-image. His inability to adjust to his new circumstances and redefine his self-image accordingly is seen by the movie as a tragic waste. And it is Will's failure to reinvent himself, as much or even more than his encouragement and pushing, that forces Louisa to reinvent herself.

I thought Me Before You was a fair to middling movie, but nowhere close to as bad as the worst movie ever made (Hereditary).
 

Jake Lipson

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@Adam Lenhardt We'll agree to disagree on the merits of Me Before You. I said my peace on it years ago in the review that I linked, and have nothing more to add than that. But The Intouchables is a far more positive depiction of a person with a disability who *is* able to adjust his worldview following his accident. I hope and think The Upside will be more along the lines of that, which is why I am looking forward to seeing it in a couple days/
 

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I get constant hell from my friends for not having seen Breaking Bad yet.
You deserve it. :laugh: Then again, I'm the guy who didn't see The Shawshank Redemption until like 10 years ago simply to spite the people who would kept telling me to see it.


If you go into Breaking Bad expecting The Best Thing Ever, you will be disappointed. Almost nothing could live up to the kind of hype that's been around that show.
I'm much more in love with the show than you but you're dead right that a viewer should not go in expecting the GREATEST THING EVER! because there's no way to live up to that. The same for The Wire or The Sopranos or The Twilight Zone or Seinfeld or the first decade of The Simpsons, etc. For my money, Bryan Cranston is a truly great actor and all the regular actors featured on the show give wonderful performances.

Also, any fan of Breaking Bad should watch Better Call Saul because that show has just been getting better and better (and sadder) as it goes along.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I loved Breaking Bad, but was unable to get into Better Call Saul. Gave up in the beginning of the second season when neither my wife or I could find the motivation to press "play" on the DVR. I keep meaning to get back to it, but it just keeps getting further and further away from me.

I do think Breaking Bad is a great show and worth watching - with the caveat that it's still a TV show and not a way of life.

I'm also, more generally, disturbed when a character like Bryan Cranston's in Breaking Bad becomes viewed as a hero in pop culture. I think the show makes it very clear that Cranston's character is not a good guy, but there is a small but loud segment of the show's fanbase that views his character as an unfairly oppressed person who was doing the right thing and was in fact a hero. I can understand how that segment of the show's fanbase might give more casual viewers a false perspective on what the show is actually about. (I'd imagine there's overlap between people who think Cranston's character was a hero and people who thought Tony Soprano was a good guy.)
 

TravisR

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I'm also, more generally, disturbed when a character like Bryan Cranston's in Breaking Bad becomes viewed as a hero in pop culture. I think the show makes it very clear that Cranston's character is not a good guy, but there is a small but loud segment of the show's fanbase that views his character as an unfairly oppressed person who was doing the right thing and was in fact a hero.
Yeah, it's not a hero's journey- it's about a normal man becoming a monster. On the other hand, I think/hope that Better Call Saul is going to become a tale of redemption (as much redemption as Jimmy can muster anyway). Because of Jimmy's backstory, I've come to love the character and root for him to not become what we've already seen.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Because of Jimmy's backstory, I've come to love the character and root for him to not become what we've already seen.

That's part of why I found it hard to watch the show - since it's a prequel, we know that he will ultimately make the wrong choices when it matters most, so it becomes less interesting to me to see him placed in situations where he can make a good or bad choice, because I already know what he's going to do. It became depressing to watch him continuing to make poor choices knowing that he wasn't going to snap out of it.
 

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Just to get this thread back on track, I saw The Upside with my wife and daughter Friday night. We had a blast! Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston played their respective roles to perfection. Their chemistry together was fantastic. I honestly was surprised that the film had gotten so many negative reviews, but I understand that the majority of them were posted after the film had its premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

Following the immense backlash from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the film was sold to STX and Lantern Entertainment, who assisted director Neil Burger in re-editing the film from its original R rating down to a PG-13. Not sure if that original cut was part of the reason for its mixed ratings, but the film I saw was funny, emotional, heart-felt, and ultimately inspiring in its messages of making the most of life and taking advantage of second chances. I'm glad its doing so well at the box office this weekend. It truly is a positive film everyone needs to see right now!
 

Josh Steinberg

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I may actually see this one. The trailer looked a little predictable, but it still looked enjoyable. I'm delighted to see that it came in #1 at the box office and grossed nearly $20 million. The movie industry desperately needs to rediscover and invest in the mid-budget movie if all of this is to survive long term. Audiences need to remember that going to the movies can be for more than just the largest of spectacles. And studios need to be reminded that it's worthwhile to invest in projects that can be financially successful even if they're not billion dollar franchises.

I also think it's an encouraging sign that the film was primarily marketed on the strength of its cast, and that its done well. In an era where movie star power seems increasingly irrelevant, I think there's still an audience that wants to see actors they enjoy in roles that are in their wheelhouses, and if the star system of days past isn't ever coming back, I like that a film can be successful because it stars people that audiences are interested in seeing. When actors are able to use their name recognition to get otherwise unconventional projects off the ground, movies get better.
 
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