In recent years, the movie industry has sought to bring more diversity and representation to theatres. “The Upside,” a drama/comedy based on a true story about a wealthy quadriplegic, has been anticipated by audiences since the release of its trailer back in October 2018.
The film’s plot focuses on two main characters — Dell, played by Kevin Hart, an ex-convict struggling to find work and keep a relationship with his family, as well as Phillip, played by Bryan Cranston, a rich quadriplegic who is looking for someone to care for him. With the help of his assistant Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman, he eventually meets and hires Dell knowing of his inability and lack of qualification to do the job.
As the film goes on you witness the ups and downs of Dell and Phillip’s new friendship along with the continuous scrutiny of Dell’s caretaking work by Yvonne. In addition to this, the tension between Dell and his ex-girlfriend, Latrice, played by Aja Naomi King, rises and the difficulty to keep a relationship with his son is brought to the forefront of the movie as a main issue to be dealt with.
Phillip and Dell both lack something that the other has to provide insight on and this allows the two to strengthen their friendship further. Fun moments like Dell driving Phillip around in his impractical sports car, to tense moments that include the two arguing about their differences, each aspect of the movie affects the relationship between the two characters.
The movie serves as a good representation of living life with a disability, in terms of dealing with one, as well as the difficulties in assisting a disabled person.
There were many points throughout the movie where Dell would correct people about the disability Phillip has. He would also point out to people that they should look at Phillip when talking to him because he is a person too and deserves to be treated like one.
Phillip’s character brought to light the many struggles someone in his position, or a similar one, goes through. There are moments where Phillip is put into a situation where he can’t do anything and he’s frustrated about it.
A scene in the film shows Phillip when he’s angry and having an argument with Dell. After a moment Dell realizes how Phillip is feeling and on his behalf, Dell begins to smash things so that Phillip feels better. This scene is not only comical, but also illustrates the strengthening of the pair’s relationship.
The portrayal of these characters, especially Phillip’s character, was made possible by the actors/actresses on screen. Cranston’s performance was limited to the use of his face and that was all he had to work with. You still felt every emotion that he was going through, and the lack of movement from him enforced the looks he was giving about not being able to move.
The movie ends on a good note that may be seen as a continuation point for a potential second film — though I believe even with that fact, this is the first and last movie about the duo, although another film about more on the two would be something I would be intrigued to see.
Overall, the film was comical and made you laugh all while you felt the consequences of the characters’ actions and the drama of the backstories for both Phillip and Dell. For those who have yet to go and see the film, I recommend you go to see the movie for yourself.
Tiffani Watteyne is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tiffanirosew.