Movies

Movie review: “The Upside”

Valiant remake is swallowed by over-earnest effort to please

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/14/19

The new film starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman titled "The Upside" would probably have had a decent chance at being memorable if there was even a modicum of originality in the script.

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Movies

Movie review: “The Upside”

Valiant remake is swallowed by over-earnest effort to please

Posted

The new film starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman titled "The Upside" would probably have had a decent chance at being memorable if there was even a modicum of originality in the script.

A remake of the 2011 French megahit, "Intouchables," which itself was based on a true story, this new film from director Neil Burger (“Divergent,” 2014) seems to roll around like a billiard ball on the Titanic hunting for a vagrant pocket.

There is a moment, however, when it references real-life gold. It occurs on the soundtrack when a recording of Aretha Franklin singing the "Turandot" aria, "Nessun Dorma," is played over a gratuitously sappy scene. The Queen of Soul singing opera sounds incongruous but it shone bright as the sun in an otherwise laugh-free alleged comedy. See, Aretha had been asked to step in at the last minute to perform during a Grammy Awards telecast as a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, who was unable to attend. Needless to say, and despite what purists might pontificate, to me, she brought down the house.

Otherwise, it hits all the kinds of notes one would expect for a movie that fawningly attempts to show how racial and class differences fall away if only people would just get to know each other face-to-face. Filled with clichés and tired stereotypes, it’s not a movie that will illuminate anyone’s consciousness.

Its premise is centered on two opposites careening into each other when Hart’s Dell Scott shows up for a job interview at the home of a wealthy quadriplegic named Phillip Lacasse, played by the thoroughly able-bodied Bryan Cranston. Phillip’s associate, Yvonne Pendleton (Nicole Kidman), is appalled by the discovery that ex-con Dell thought he was applying for a position as a janitor when really the cattle call for job seekers was for a position as a personal assistant for Phillip. This assistant would live on the premises and be available to help Phillip in anything he needed to do, 24/7.

Needless to say, Phillip instantly takes a liking to Dell’s brash, unaffected personality and orders him hired. From that point, the various ways they are thrown together are played for laughs. Not big ha-ha laughs, but more affectionate chuckles for the situation and occasionally for the comedic skills of both actors. Speaking of acting, Hart is not bad in a role that asks him to exhibit depth and complexity. Cranston is quite good as usual, but one gets the sense he wishes he had better material to work with.

Tempo grade: C-

“The Upside” is rated PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

A Dog’s Way Home

MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements, some peril and language

Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7

Director Charles Martin Smith brings considerable talent to this family-friendly tale of a dog’s undying love.

As a puppy, Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) finds her way into the arms of Lucas (John Hauer-King), a young man who gives her a good home. When Bella becomes separated from Lucas, she soon finds herself on an epic 400-mile journey to reunite with her beloved owner.

Along the way, the lost but spirited dog touches the lives of an orphaned mountain lion, a down-on-his-luck veteran and some friendly strangers who happen to cross her path.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Replicas

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic material, violence, disturbing images, some nudity and sexual references.

Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7

William Foster (Keanu Reeves) is a brilliant neuroscientist who loses his wife (Alice Eve), son and two daughters in a tragic car accident. Using cutting-edge technology, William comes up with a daring and unprecedented plan to download their memories and clone their bodies. As the experiment begins to spiral out of control, Foster soon finds himself at odds with his dubious boss, a reluctant accomplice, a police task force and the physical laws of science.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Widows

MPAA rating: R for violence, language throughout, and some sexual content and nudity

Taos Community Auditorium

This film from director Steve McQueen tells the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands' criminal activities.

Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

Costars include Liam Neeson, Jon Bernthal and Robert Duvall.

This film will be screened at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday (Jan. 14-19), with an additional matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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