The Ups and Downs of the Upside

I recently had the chance to see The Upside which stared Bryan Cranston as a wealthy quadriplegic named Phillip who hires Dell (Kevin Hart), an ex-convict as his caretaker. Despite coming from vastly different backgrounds, an unlikely friendship starts to develop. 

As someone who has a physical, disability I was excited to see this movie. I was pleasantly surprised by the movie. One of my favorite aspects of the movie was that it showed some unpleasant aspects of living with a physical disability, such as needing assistance with the most intimate aspects of your disability, like showering or using the restroom. 

I also appreciated the fact that they showed how a new caretaker can adjust to assisting their client. Philip is also shown to have a hard time with some of the physical and emotional aspects of being quadriplegic despite being wealthy. In my opinion, this makes the character of Philip more relatable. Everyone has their struggles in life regardless of their financial situation. 

One of the main critiques I have of The Upside is the fact that Bryan Cranston plays a quadriplegic despite not being one himself. I think if a quadriplegic had actually been cast to play the role it would have added authenticity to the role. Someone who is actually quadriplegic will know exactly how it feels both physically and emotionally. When someone is acting, he or she can simply pretend to have a disability. Once the acting is finished, an actor without disabilities will not have to think about life with a disability ever again. 

One of the common arguments for not casting lesser-known actors with disabilities in these roles is that studios need the name recognition to get audiences to see these movies. With The Upside that argument is invalid as the film already stars Kevin Hart and the Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman. In fact, casting a quadriplegic opposite Kevin Hart might have convinced more people with disabilities to see the film. Despite its faults, The Upside was an overall solid movie, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is interested in a lighthearted comedy.

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