In the spirt of this film’s title I decided I was going to go in with an open mind to a film that was already done so very well eight years ago. The Intouchables is one of those films that stays long with you after you see it and a lot of that had to do with casting the first time around. When I heard they were going to remake it and that Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart would be stepping into the lead roles it got my attention, but that is all it got.
After a parasailing accident Phillip (Bryan Cranston) loses the use of his entire body below the neck and not long after his that, he loses his wife to cancer. After firing his old care taker he, with the help of he estate director Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) they are looking for a new one. Dell (Kevin Hart) doesn’t really have any direction in his life and he is only given some when he is told he must apply for job or risk going back to prison. With his marching orders in hand, Dell sets out to try his hardest not to get a job and that plan leads him to Phillips’s place, where in-spite of Dell’s lack of everything, Phillip decides to offer him the job. Reluctantly Dell takes the job and and what he lacks in job skills, he makes up in straight talk, something that helps open Phillip up to life. Soon they are taking rides in Phillip’s exotic cars and bonding over ice cream and happy grass. When a meeting goes wrong it sets Phillip back, and he ends up pushing everyone away even as Dell helps Phillip find the magic of life once again.
As I said before I am trying to look at the upside at what the filmmakers attempted to do, but that became harder than I previously thought. With The Upside it felt like when you want to buy an expensive item but you don’t want to spend the money and choose to buy a knock off brand at the flea market instead. With The Intouchables you had it all, including a break out performance by Omar Sy that would be hard to duplicate again. Casting is everything when remaking an already great film and with The Upside they get some of it right, but it’s the lack of the magic the original had that makes this telling average. I don’t want to say something as basic as watch the original, but I am going to anyway. I understand why someone would want to tell this story again, it’s powerful subject matter in any language, as it was originally presented in French and the fact that it was a film that many didn’t see, but for those who have, this feels like a lesser version of the original. Sticking with the flea market version of an expensive item, for those who can tell the difference it matters, but for everyone else the knock off is good enough as long as it comes in a Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston package.