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The Upside is a comedy starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. Hart is an out of work ex-con looking for a job, while Cranston plays a wealthy quadriplegic looking for a new person to help him in the everyday tasks of his life while he waits to die.
Con – Formulaic: I don’t like to start negative in this column, but it’s important get this out of the way first as it informs the rest of the review. The Upside is absolutely a paint-by-number film. It’s a classic tale of two people from totally different backgrounds who have plenty to share with, and learn from, each other. After watching the trailer, it wouldn’t be hard to write down eight to ten major plot points and be fairly spot on. People searching for something new here won’t find it. Further, it certainly can be a bit preachy and heavy handed at times, and some of the film just doesn’t work that well.
Pro – So what: The thing is, who cares? There are a lot of reasons to go to the movies, and no doubt appreciating movies as a high art form is one of them. Another is watching a story that really makes you consider something in a new way or experience new thoughts. Those are impressive expressions of the medium, but sometimes a movie has value because it entertains you or because of how it makes you feel. If it can do the former and the later, you have a masterpiece. The Upside is no masterpiece. But it is a very enjoyable movie. It wasn’t hard to see what was coming, but that didn’t prevent a smile or a shudder when it did. The Upside knows you know what will likely unfold and gives that to you because it also understands that’s why you are there.
Pro – Chemistry: Hart and Cranston are excellent together. The movie is genuinely funny, and there are laugh-out-loud moments throughout. Not everything works, but most of it does. Hart plays an ex-con with a good heart and a dim future. He’s funny, but tones down his energy enough to feel real rather than a comedy sketch of a man. Cranston has to act from the neck up and does a nice job. He plays a great straight man for Hart, and it really works. Kevin Hart always seems to have a good vibe with his co-stars, and that is on full display here. The movie is entertaining because while the circumstances of their friendship might seem a bit far-fetched, these two feel like real friends. That goes a long way into giving the film a fun and positive vibe that will resonate with audiences.
It wouldn’t be hard to criticize The Upside. There are plenty of warts on display, but why focus on the negative when you can go and enjoy the positive mood of hanging with these guys for a couple hours? Get a buddy and head over to the Fridley Palms Theatres to check it out.

Full Service Westside