A Star Is Born has set a precedent; a precedent that is rarely seen in modern cinema. It is a top remake, with heart, power and originality (There is an argument that Luca Guadagnino’s Suspria has emulated its power but that’s more of a debatable choice of an example). Before this, there is often a glaring sneer from those of influence down upon remakes, specifically those repeating films of original commended quality. But it has now been proven that when care, and thought, is taken when creating these remakes, the film can still offer so much originality.
Yet, that doesn’t leave a production to run away with its own sense of righteousness. There has to be a simple acceptance that the original exists, and this new version is offering a new take with respect and such care. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be successful, it just has to be considerate and appreciative.
The Upside, a remake of the French phenomenon The Intouchables from 2011, stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston as Dell and Phillip, a parolee who accidentally arrives at the wrong interview, and a billionaire quadriplegic struggling for a thirst for life looking for a new assistant. The unlikely pair are drawn to each other, with The Upside detailing their difficulties with each other, and the personal battles they work together against.
The Upside is massively inoffensive. The initial marketing may have pushed a belief that Kevin Hart will run the film with his outgoing and invasive personality, but director Neil Burger has reigned in his passion, and brought out a composed and light-hearted performance from Hart. It is still a Kevin Hart performance (this is almost the proof that he could do no else), but with it being Hart-lite there’s a reserved nature that allows The Upside more freedom with its plot.
Cranston is as enjoyable to watch as ever, showing just how engaging his style of performance is, something he has extended to the big screen after his major command of television before he made the jump across. There’s plaudits to be given to Burger for his success in pairing the two, and there is certainly on-screen chemistry that works and makes the film at least somewhat worthwhile.
There’s certainly issues around pacing and bringing the story into the realms of realism, but the achievement in chemistry certainly counteracts at least some of that. It plays up to a ‘popular’ audience, and was always going to suffer because of that. There’s an acceptance about The Upside that the film being created comes from the demand, not the need.
It probably didn’t need to be made, there’s no fascinating new take or powerful change in story, but it creates an entry way into the story that many would find more accessible. It still has (albeit limited) charm, and a sense of worth with a well meant message, and that gives The Upside purpose, even if it isn’t the best film, or even a particularly commendable remake.
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