“THE UPSIDE” is now on Blu-ray and home entertainment starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman. To me this is an underrated film from this year that I think may get lost in the shuffle despite strong performances from the lead trio and a solid directorial effort from Neil Burger. This is a remake of the 2011 French film “The Intouchables” and is inspired by true events, following a wealthy man that is a quadriplegic after a tragic paragliding accident. Against the advice of his assistant he hires a parolee to be his caregiver and they form an unlikely friendship that will put both of their lives back on course.
I will admit I was very curious about the pairing of Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. But overall this film didn’t really jump out at me all too much. The trailers made it look a little formulaic. It also looked to be potentially sappy and nothing struck me as feeling fresh. But I had a great time watching and found it to be much more emotionally engaging, and refreshingly optimistic than I was expecting it to be.
The story does follow a strict template. There are some clichés, and despite the emotional swings between the characters, you can safely assume how the story will close itself out. Surprisingly though, I didn’t feel these slight hindrances overly effected the enjoyment or the connection I felt while watching. It does get a little cute at times as well, but for the most part it was free of melodramatics. And regardless of the subplots feeling recycled, it was down-to-earth with a natural sense-of-humor. Which effectively kept me engaged, primarily because I genuinely liked these characters.
Below you will find the link to my full review of this film. Now let’s dive into the small collection of special features included with this release.
There wasn’t a ton of features included with this Blu-ray but what it does provide adds some insight to the final film. First are a couple of deleted scenes that I would have enjoyed seeing left in the final-cut. One between Cranston and Hart that admittedly didn’t move their characters forward in ways we don’t already get in the film. But it was still a complete scene that showcased the subtle timing between them which made these two roles so engaging onscreen. The other was a comical scene between Hart and Kidman that delivered some amusement. It was an endearing scene between them that would have been better left in the film to get the most out of their interpersonal relationship and its growth. There is also a nicely edited gag reel that is much more goofing around than it was traditional jumbled lines and retakes. There are a couple sprinkled in, and overall the short segment does a good job of capturing the charisma and energy onset between the cast and crew.
Also included with this release are five short segments that are each around a couple minutes in length. They are tightly edited with film footage and commentary from the cast and director. And while they don’t last long, they are an easy watch to grab some behind the scenes mindsets which I always enjoy seeing with a film. First was “Onscreen Chemistry: Kevin and Bryan” a short vignette that provides a look at how the lead stars felt about working with one another. The next two features “Creating a Story of Possibility” and “Bridging Divisions” focused on the relationships in the film and the efforts to explore them throughout the narrative.
The next was “Embracing Positivity” looking deeper into the positive message behind this story and how the focus was always on the uplifting of spirits rather than theatrical melodrama. The last was “Presenting a Different Side of Kevin Hart” which looked into this role for Hart and the differences it had compared to his usual comedic heavy characters. This was an emotionally driven role and Hart speaks on his efforts to pull it off and what he thinks the role means to his career.
If you have not seen this film I recommend checking it out. Cranston and Hart are great together and both deliver top tier performances. Kidman is a fantastic addition to the cast and despite the dramatic subject-matter, this still manages to be a genuinely spirited story. And with a decent collection of features for a genre film like this one the Blu-ray is a nice title to add to your home collection.