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Six years after The Intouchables, a French buddy comedy based on a true story, broke out and became a hit around the world, The Weinstein Co. unveiled its American remake at the Toronto International Film Festival. Neil Burger‘s The Upside, which pairs Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart as a paralyzed white billionaire and the black ex-con whom he hires to be his caretaker, had its world premiere Friday at Roy Thomson Hall and was greeted with a lot of laughs and a hearty ovation.
The French version not only made a fortune, but also was France’s entry in the best foreign-language film Oscar race. (It ultimately was shortlisted, but was not nominated.) The American version could make a lot of money, too, at a time when The Weinstein Co. could certainly use it — Harvey Weinstein told me after the film that his company will release it before the end of the year to qualify it for awards, but won’t go wide with it until March — but it seems to me that a nomination or two at the Golden Globes are a far likelier possibility for this one than Oscar noms.
Cranston, who is excellent in a performance that takes place entirely above the shoulders, and Nicole Kidman, who plays Cranston’s character’s stern executive, are expected to hold their own in films that are at least a little bit serious, as this one is. But this film marks something of a departure for Hart. He still gets to do his usual, apparently semi-improvised, often-hilarious shtick, but he also occasionally turns more serious than we’ve seen him onscreen before, and I expect that he will be the focus of most of any awards love that comes the film’s way. (To the chagrin of The Weinstein Co. officials, Hart was the sole member of the film’s core trio of performers who wasn’t able to take a victory lap in Toronto, ostensibly because Sony, for which he is making Jumanji 2: Welcome to the Jungle, declined to approve an appearance.)
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