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MOVIE REVIEW

The Upside

also known as “Amigos Para Sempre,” “Amigos por siempre,” “Asistent de (ne)voie,” “Geroji puse,” “Mein Bester & ich,” “Novos Amigos Improváveis,” “Ootamatu sõprus,” “Prijatelja za vedno”, «1+1: Голливудская история»
MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for suggestive content and drug use.

Reviewed by: Brandon Primeaux
CONTRIBUTOR

Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Adults • Young-Adults • Mature Teens
Genre:
Comedy Drama Remake
Length:
2 hr. 5 min.
Year of Release:
2019
USA Release:
January 11, 2019 (wide—3,080 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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Social contrast—comparing the world’s of a rich aristocrat and a poor man

POVERTY—What does the Bible say about the poor? Answer

Poor in the Bible

Paralyzation / paralyzed man / quadriplegic / tetraplegic / full body paralysis

Humility vs. pridefulness / How did Jesus greatly humble himself for us? Answer

Suffering

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

ORIGIN OF BAD—How did bad things come about? Answer

Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer

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Suicide

SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

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Hope

hope

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Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on Christian Answers—full-length motion picture.
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Featuring: Kevin HartDell Scott
Bryan CranstonPhillip Lacasse
Nicole KidmanYvonne
Julianna MarguliesLily
Golshifteh FarahaniDr. Gupta
Tate DonovanCarter Locke
Genevieve AngelsonJenny
Aja Naomi KingLatrice
See all »
Director: Neil Burger—“The Illusionist” (2006), “Divergent” (2014)
Producer: Lantern Entertainment
The Weinstein Company (uncredited)
See all »
Distributor: STX Entertainment

“The Upside” is a movie about the unusual friendship that develops between two unlikely characters from opposite spectrums in life. Based on a 2011 remake of a French film called “Les Intouchables” (The Intouchables) the movie focuses on flaws in the lives of the two main characters, Dell (played by Kevin Hart) and Phillip or “P” (played by Bryan Cranston).

The odd pairing of the two who meet by happenstance makes for a relationship based on discovery and compromise between two men who haven’t figured it all out. Phillip is a quadriplegic millionaire, who enjoyed a life of luxury and living on the edge until tragedy occurred causing him to lose both his mobility and his wife to terminal illness at almost the same time.

Dell is an unmotivated ex-convict who has made relationship, moral, and parenting mistakes that have cost him precious time and caused him to miss out on the joys of being a good man and a father.

The film parallels the struggles both men face as they attempt to adjust to certain challenges in life. Phillip is a wealthy man, but is desperately depressed and somewhat suicidal based on the pain of loss. This loss occurs both physically and emotionally and consequently makes him difficult to please and get along with.

Dell has a need to find employment to remain out of jail long enough to form a lasting bond with his son, Anthony (played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston). Dell is seemingly uninterested in securing employment, but makes an impression on Phillip because of his seemingly unqualified gruff presentation. Phillip offers Dell the job as his caretaker and the path of discovery begins.

The friendship between Dell and “P,” as he is affectionately known throughout the film, is based on outward differences and inward pain. While Phillip bemoans his current existence, Dell has a past that he can overcome. What Phillip provides Dell is generous financial means to support his son and the boy’s mother, and Dell provides Phillip with courage to live and a fresh perspective on life. The two seemingly make each other better in some areas, however these temporal improvements come with moral compromise.

Their friendship is based on crude humorous jokes throughout the film, and Dell’s passion for “women and sleeping with women.” Galatians 5:19-21 teaches Christians about the works of the flesh and what to avoid.

What is SEXUAL IMMORALITY? Answer

SEXUAL LUST—Why does God strongly warn us about it? Answer

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

CONSEQUENCES—What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Dell exposes Phillip to pain management through drug use, and an instance of sex for hire in order to experience the pleasures of the flesh, which is utterly divergent to the Christian Biblical view. Although these themes do not dominate the film, the apparent “bettering of oneself” theme does. Phillip offers Dell exposure to the arts, and degrees of fine living. As a result, Dell’s character does develop a bit by adhering to the responsibilities of spending time with his son and paying child support, however it’s important to note that good deeds alone are not lasting indicators of the inward change necessary to live a life pleasing unto God. John 3:16 guarantees life eternal and pleasing in God’s sight, and Romans 12:2 provides the instruction needed for true thought and life change that is lasting.

The friendship between these two does sever at a point and sends Phillip into a deep depression, but Dell uses the time to takes steps toward “self-improvement.” The two eventually reunite, based on a lightly co-dependent relationship that never fully articulates why it works. We can only conclude that Dell offers Phillip change, and Phillip offers Dell opportunity.

This film strides on the line of what’s considered a lighthearted approach to opposites attracting to provide audience laughs. The film’s PG-13 rating pushes the limits based on language and some thematic elements. It’s important to be prayerful concerning what your ears can tolerate.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” —Luke 6:45

Additionally, if you understand that true friendship is based on Godly principles of equal yoking (2 Corinthians 6:14), and good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33) that build one another up and not tear down (Ephesians 4:29), then the basis of this film will be somewhat disappointing.

Objectional Content

  • Vulgar/Crude language: Heavy— • fu** (2) • “Your p*nis calls bullsh*t” • “sh**” (7) • “bi***h” • “a**” (5) • “do it” (sex)
  • Profane language: Moderately Heavy— • “Jesus” •  “God” (6) • “God-d*mn” (2) • “d*mn” (5) • “h*ll” (4)
  • Sex: Moderate— • Dream sequence of a sexual encounter (brief) • Crude references to male genitalia • Scene of prostitution (showing massage of upper body parts only—shoulders and ears)
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Violence: Minor
  • Drugs: 2 instances of drug use
  • Occult: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive
Positive—Overall, in spite of some objectionable content, this movie is very positive and life affirming. One thing that really strikes me about this movie, especially in today’s devisive climate, is its message that race doesn’t have to be something that separates us. This movie seems to say race doesn’t matter (Galatians 3:28).

While it wouldn’t be a good idea to let young children watch it, I believe it to be appropriate for kids in their middle teens.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Greg Hood, age 54 (USA)

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