The Upside

[Editor’s Note: Days after seeing this movie, the writer forgot about it completely. He didn’t even remember he didn’t finish writing the review and never posted it. Take that as another aspect of the review.]

What’s this? A serious movie, with some serious actors (and one non serious actor) coming out in January? But that is supposed to be a dumping ground for films! So what is going on with The Upside?

Well, first of all, they are sort of hiding the fact that this is a remake of another movie. They aren’t hiding that it is based on a true story, just the remake aspect. If you haven’t seen the French film The Intouchables, you are doing yourself a disservice, as it is pretty darn good, and one of the most successful French movies ever.

Another thing hindering this movie is the nice Hart sized controversy over anti-gay jokes and Oscars. Before the movie came out, Ellen redeemed him for all the gay people and said he should host, because he seems sorry. The issue with all of that of course is before then, there was no apology until he basically dropped out of hosting. And basically every time he “apologized” he came as a victim and people just trying to get him, never actually seeming sorry. So yeah. January. Dumping ground. Still true.

LAUGH
An American remake? You don’t say?!

Dell (Kevin Hart) is looking for work! Why? Because he is out of prison, and its an aspect of parole. If he doesn’t get a job, he at least needs signatures saying he went there to get one and wasn’t offered it, so that it shows he is trying. I mean, he wants a job. Because he wants money, doesn’t want to get into selling drugs, and has an ex-wife and son to support.

Due to a mix up, he goes into a luxury building thinking he is applying for a janitor gig, following the crowd of people applying for jobs. Really, it is actually to be a life auxiliary support for a billionaire named Philip (Bryan Cranston). He is quadriplegic, needs a live in to clean him, move him, make sure he isn’t dying.

Well, mostly that last part can be ignored. Philip is tired of this life, he has a DNR, let that death happen.

How does Dell get the job? Mostly because Philip is tired of this life, I just said so. He wants a change, and maybe Dell will be unqualified enough to get him killed, who knows. But of course, this mismatched pair are going to be doing a lot more together than they expected.

Also starring Tate Donovan as an annoying neighbor that we all hate. Boo hiss! And of course Nicole Kidman as the runner of the business for Philip.

chair
Finally, someone who can walk down the street with Hart and not look overpowering.

Speaking of overpowering, there are a few scenes where Hart is next to Kidman, who at that point seems like an Amazonian warrior with that level of height difference (as she is probably wearing heels). It is a nice extreme look and added comedy they were not intending.

The Upside is entirely just okay. It is told out of order, like the French film, and has a far different conclusion merely to catch those familiar with the French version off. But overall, it is just slightly more modern and more American. The friendship doesn’t feel as real, and Cranston just looks like he is there because he is supposed to be there. No one goes out of there way to make the acting seem genuine, nor a situation that totally happened.

This is a remake that tried to do its own thing, while still doing a lot similar with the original. It needs to pick a direction. Do we want to focus on the wife/kid direction? If so, good, go for it, but commit. About turning his life around? fine. But we got all of that in a montage and I guess his skill is fixing broken wheel chairs? Kind of odd, and came from nowhere.

The Upside is clearly forgettable, and in Spring, I won’t remember it at all, as it middles its way through theaters.

2 out of 4.

The Only Living Boy in New York

First of all, you are welcome, because I almost started this review with a Rihanna reference, so I saved you from this joke.

Secondly, this movie came out months ago. And after my screening, on August 22, I totally forgot I had seen it. It was a replacement screening that night, I meant to see Good Time but it got moved around. And later that week, we had a hurricane hit my city, which put my site into a flux for awhile, with some reviews taking forever to get published.

As of 2-3 weeks ago, I thought I had finally already caught up with all the missed reviews, but holy crap, I missed this one. So sure, I am writing it over three months after watching it. And I have fallen asleep while setting up this review. What I am getting at is that I definitely did not enjoy this film, and the whole experience behind just getting it on this website has been a trainwreck.

Friend
Kind of like falling in love with a friend for five years. A bad idea that only sometimes works in movies.

Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) is a boy, living in New York, and he is trying to make it on his own as a writer. Well, maybe writing, maybe something else. But he is going to do it on his own, not with the help of his rich parents. His dad (Pierce Brosnan) is a straight up publisher, his mom (Cynthia Nixon) mostly just stay at home depressed at this point.

Webb is secretly in love with his book loving friend (Kiersey Clemons), but she has a boyfriend. He also lives in a tiny crummy apartment, where he gets a new neighbor (Jeff Bridges) who is extremely nosy and a bit of a drunk. Who the hell talks to their neighbors? He reluctantly talks to the stranger, because hey, why not, he has someone new to vent to and talk about his problems with.

A some point, change actually starts to happen in his life. He finds out his dad is having an affair, with a coworker. A younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Time to get all obsessed and stalkery without having a plan on what to do with this new information, Thomas!

Also starring Tate Donovan and Wallace Shawn.

Hot step mom
Maybe if he pushes her she will realize she is being a total butthole.

It is really hard to put into words just why The Only Living Boy in New York is so bad. Partially, I am sure, thanks to writing a review months after watching the movie.

Let’s start with the actors. The lead we are given is an incredibly whiny and privileged boy, and for him to feel like he is the center of the world (With another character encouraging this thought process) is incredibly unexciting. Your main character doesn’t have to be likable in order for a film to be good, but to watch a rich white 20 something complain so much, despite having everything given to him on a platter is exhausting and a bit painful. Bridges and Brosnan give very little to this film and mostly feel like phoned in performances. Beckinsale is the only main performer who feels like she gives a damn about a good performance, but the plot and story make her character behave completely erratically so it is hard to tell.

Story wise it is also poor. Main character complains, tries to use the friend zone, s someone, and then changes a lot of people’s lives seemingly accidentally. I am not sure how much he learns by the end of it, in terms of actual character growth. The side characters are bland, are not believable, and technically, nor is the lead. It is just like watching rich paint dry.

The Only Living Boy in New York is a film that is not as good as it thinks it is. Sure, it is not as delusional as something like The Room, as there are actually well done locations, camera work, and editing. But this is still an inexcusable mess of a story that no one should have to put up with at this point in time from professionals.

0 out of 4.

Argo

Ben Affleck. Have you heard of him? He started as an up an coming actor in the 1990s, even won an academy award for writing, but then made a series of bad choices. He followed the Paycheck, got it on with J.Lo and became an easy laughing stock of Hollywood. Basically, he became synonymous with Canada jokes. Something that is joked about to seem cool, basically.

But then something happened. He directed a movie. Gone Baby Gone and The Town were both considered great hits. Now we haveArgo, and if it is any good, it could potentially cement himself as a great director (generally you need at least 3 good movies, in a row preferably).

Argo Fuck Yourself
And if it isn’t good, well then, Argo fuck yourself.

Back in the 1960s, Iran was fucked up. The film does a great explanation to catch you up to the events at hand though. Basically, the USA helped make a military coop, put a leader in charge who was horrible but loyal to the US. Eventually Iran gt their country back and the leader was brought back to US for protection, and was dying of cancer. Iran protested under their new leader, demanding the old one be brought back to be tried for his actions, but the US refused. They rioted at the US Embassy, eventually broke in and took everyone captive. Everyone, but six individuals who were able to escape (Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Rory Cochrane, Kerry Bishe, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham).

They find themselves in the house of the Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber), and become stowaways. Unfortunately for them, the fact that they escaped puts them in more danger than those who were captured! The whole world is looking at those captured hostages, so Iran knows they cant have them killed. But people who escaped and have been hiding out? They are clearly spies and can be killed. Well, shit.

Two months later, enter the CIA. They are brought in to help extract the individuals from Iran, lead by their best man, Tony Mendez (Affleck). Unfortunately, their best idea is a long shot. He will head to Iran, pretending to be part of a Canadian film crew looking to shoot a new sci-fi movie, called Argo, there. He will teach the captives their roles and they will just leave hopefully. But first they have to make it seem real. With the help of some Hollywood big wigs (John Goodman, Alan Arkin) and the head of the CIA (Bryan Cranston) they attempt a rescue that basically seems like a suicide mission.

Canadadad
Tip 2 on how to be Canadian: Apologize always and often.

One thing people ask me a lot if what is my favorite movie, and every time I say Chasing Amy. Clearly I am a fan of Affleck as an actor usually, I just think he made some bad decisions in his life (the first half decade of 2000, specifically). Most people would agree that he was the bomb in Phantoms as well.

Thankfully, Affleck lived up to his hype and both directed an amazing movie, while also acting the shit out of it. First off, the way the movie set up and explained all the history before the hostage situation was really good. I was worried never hearing of the Canadian Caper before would lessen the movie for me, but they quickly set it up while also making it easy to understand. The entire film puts you into the late 1970s, everything from the looks of the actors, to the language just seems to fit.

Sure, it is true the Canadian involvement is incredible downplayed, but movies aren’t meant to be historically accurate, just entertaining. Historically accurate movies tend to be documentaries.

I think I would call Argo one of my favorite movies of 2012, which is an amazing accomplishment with all of the big movies that have already been released this year.

4 out of 4.