Latter-day Saint Movie Review: What Parents Should Know About "The Upside" Before Seeing It with Family


Jesus-Loving Movie Buffs search for gospel principles in Hollywood movies. They were founded by Jonathan Decker, author of 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families. For daily reviews “like” us on Facebook!

What's The Upside about?   

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The Upside | "Narrated Number One Movie” TV Spot | Own It Now On Digital HD, Blu-Ray & DVD

Kevin Hart plays an ex-con who gets hired by Bryan Cranston’s character, who is a rich quadriplegic needing assistance. The unlikely pair have much to learn from one another and develop a lasting friendship and respect that still exists today. In other words, it’s based on a heart-warming true story! It’s also a remake of a French movie called Intouchables, which was the most successful French film in history in several European countries.

Is it any good? (A-)

I LOVED it! It’s uplifting, heart-warming, funny, and charming at times. You might even get a little teary-eyed. Sure, there are some plausibility holes in the story, despite it being based on true events. In the end, you feel good and you want to do something good for someone.

The acting in the film is good all around. If you usually don’t like Kevin Hart because he plays the same screaming character in every movie, you might actually enjoy him in this movie. He did very well with the drama and, of course, shined when he needed to with his comedic chops. He and Bryan Cranston have great chemistry together. Nicole Kidman is fantastic. Aja Naomi King brought impressive depth to her role. I loved the way Julianna Margulies’ character explained the Shel Silverstein book The Missing Piece. What a great metaphor in this movie, to which Bryan Cranston's character replies, "That's really deep for a children's book.”

The film tackles difficult subjects like the death of a loved one, a single mother dealing with a dead-beat dad, paralysis, race, wealth, trust, hope, and even love. While some might feel it leans toward preachy, I found it light and inspiring.

Is it okay for your kids? (PG-13)

There are a couple of scenes that involve changing a quadriplegic's catheter and all of the humor and awkwardness you would expect that would include. There is profanity, including one F-bomb. Two men get high on marijuana and there is some alcohol consumption in a few scenes. You see a tattooed Kevin Hart without a shirt on. There is a brief expression on a woman’s face who is enjoying being in bed with her husband, as well as some talk about a “blue” pill and what happens. Two men spend time with prostitutes and there is talk of pornography in a couple of scenes.

Any worthwhile messages?

Second chances, the pain of losing a loved one, the limits of wealth in bringing happiness, economic barriers, race, friendship, hope.

Movie Review Mom: Trina Boice teaches for BYU-I and is the author of 25 books.  You can read more of her reviews at Because she is a popular speaker in China and loves to travel around the world, she created You can see all of her books and win prizes at You can also find @TrinaBoice on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.


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