The Upside: A story of two unlikely friends, a millionaire and a man on parole, who learn how to care for more than just themselves.
The Upside is based on a true story and tells the tale of Dell (Kevin Hart), who is on parole and must get a job or he can say ‘hello’ to his jail mates once again. On top of that struggle, his son wants nothing to do with him and his ex kicks him out of the house. Despite what he’s facing, Dell doesn’t have much motivation as he goes on the hunt for a job. Through an elevator mix up he finds himself accidentally applying for a ‘life auxiliary’ position taking care of a quadriplegic millionaire, Phillip (Bryan Cranston).
via: Escape Artists
To spite his business manager, Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), Phillip hires Dell even though he has no experience and is the least qualified candidate. As Dell works to take care of Phillip’s physical needs, his winning charm and devil-may-care attitude start to rub off on Phillip, giving him a little more reason to live. As Phillip starts to enjoy life, Dell starts to learn to care for people other than himself and see the value in thinking about other’s needs.
via: Escape Artists
Here’s the Rundown:
Humour- Though the film deals with some serious content and struggles, the balance of humour throughout keeps things not only light, but realistic. Both Dell and Phillip are dealing with hard life situations and turn to humour to diffuse the tension just like many people do in real life. Hart’s blunt and loud humour contrasts so well with Cranston’s dry sarcasm to create a hilarious melding of the best of both worlds (humour-wise).
Positive Representation- Not many films feature people with disabilities. The Upside has a quadriplegic as one of the main characters and as such, is able to highlight some of the everyday hardships they face in the world. One example is a scene where Dell and Phillip go to get hot dogs and after Dell orders, the cashier asks Dell what Phillip wants. Dell tells the cashier not to do that, but to ask Phillip himself. Having others address their carers instead of themselves is something that people with disabilities face daily and something that needs to change. The Upside addresses this in a seemingly simple, yet impactful scene and in many other ways throughout the film.
Love- Love, not romantic love (though the film has an adorable love story), is something that is featured through the film. At the beginning, Dell and Phillip only care about themselves and their own problems. However, as the story is told, both start to discover how caring and sacrificing for others can bring a joy so much greater than just caring about yourself. This theme of sacrificial love is shown to the audience in such an inspiring way you can’t help but want to go out and love people in this way!
Watch the official trailer for The Upside here: