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KXII KTEN Herald Democrat City of Sherman City of Denison Grayson County

Wilder's Whole World

By: Dwayne Wilder
To me, there isn’t much ‘up side’…………………….
In recent weeks, I have seen the preview for the new movie, “The Upside.” The first time I saw it, I thought there was something vaguely familiar to me. I couldn’t concentrate on the trailer because I was so focused on my ‘feeling.’ At a certain point, it clicked………I had seen this movie before!
I gathered that this new movie – due out in January – was a comedy. It was made for the laughs and to prove it, the producers cast funnyman, Kevin Hart, as the lead. I was mad and sick at the same time; I couldn’t watch any longer………..and that never happens to me with a movie preview. Thankfully, it was over by this time and the next trailer began.
Yet, I still couldn’t stop thinking about “The Upside,” but not in a good way……………
Sure, the plot is a good one: an out of work drifter befriends a paraplegic man to become his caregiver. The story is fraught with incredible insights and the potential is sky high; and I know for a fact that it is true. My problem with “The Upside” is that it apparently isn’t made for the truth, but for the laughs. This does this true story an injustice I can’t put into words……………..I just know that it borders on sacrilegious. I am saddened/angry.
I can’t speak about “The Upside” the movie, but I can discuss, “The Intouchables,” the 2011 French movie that blew me away when I saw it in Dallas – at an arthouse theater – in 2012. I was so taken by this film that I bought the DVD; simply incredible!
The story is about Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, a French millionaire who was injured in a paragliding accident and confined to a wheelchair as a paraplegic. During one of his hiring times, fate put him in touch with Abdel Sellou, a French-Algerian, an out of work drifter. (I know this because I read Abdel’s book about his time with Philippe-this is how special this movie is, I BOUGHT the book because of the movie!)
Yes, the film is in French, but there are English subtitles; and yes, there have been four remakes from various countries. “The Upside” is the fifth and first for America; and I am crushed by the take the producers have on this incredible story. Where “The Intouchables” was made with reality as its focus; and the natural humor of life let in as it happens, “The Upside” is apparently made with humor as its focus; and if some reality gets in…….well, I guess that’s okay………according to those aforementioned producers.
Since any real storyteller (a producer or director, for instance) knows that humanity sells the movie, I am happy to report that “The Intouchables” is the most successful foreign film not made in English in film history…………Yes, ALL films ever made are included. Only English language ones have been more popular in the HISTORY of film. I don’t think “The Upside” has a shot at this record………………………….
I could go on and on about “The Intouchables” (Most successful French film in German history; won eight Cesar Awards-The French Oscar; has made more than $427 million worldwide AND counting; and Voted ‘The Cultural Event’ in France for 2011), but the main idea is that this movie HAS the correct focus for its true story.
The Intouchables is based on a documentary, “A La Vie, a la Mort,” which spawned Sellou’s book and di Borgo’s memoir of their time together (I haven’t read this one, but it’s on my list) The reality is that Sellou is a Middle Easterner, but The Intouchables make him a black man. In my opinion, color doesn’t matter, but it’s what his character is that matters. The Upside follows with Hart, a black man, as its lead to follow 'The Intouchables.' Who knows why? Probably comedy reasons!
Francois Cluzet is excellent as di Borgo in The Intouchables. He is funny, he is serious and he is very human. He will forever be di Borgo to me. In this new American film, Bryan Cranston, a strong American actor (Breaking Bad) is in this role. I believe he will do fine, but he won’t touch Cluzet’s performance because the focus of the movie is different. Omar Sy plays Sellou in “The Intouchables” and he is wonderful. His realism and humanity shine through because he isn’t playing it for laughs as Hart undoubtedly will do. The Upside adds Nicole Kidman as Cranston’s administrative assistant for star power, but it won’t do any good if the film has the wrong focus.
And FYI, the soundtrack of The Intouchables is incredible!!! I love the injection of Earth, Wind and Fire into the story. I don’t know if music will be part of The Upside, but it couldn’t hurt……….could it?!
And finally, one cool item is that five percent (of $427 million so far) of the profits of The Intouchables goes to charities for disabled adults living spaces. Wow! Talk about putting your money where your mouth is……………………………….that's reality....................
The Upside will probably make some money due to Hart, Cranston and Kidman, but it still won’t be close to The Intouchables because that 2011 film tells a true story of humanity with its pain, relationships and yes, humor.
…………..and that’s what is ‘intouchable'……………………..

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