Parents' Guide to

The Upside

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Charming Hart/Cranston disability dramedy glorifies pot use.

Movie PG-13 2019 125 minutes
The Upside Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 16+

I felt amazing

Personally, I felt this film was amazing. As usual, Cranston delivers an outstanding performance but that wasn't surprising. Kevin Hart was also great in it ; proved he is really a talented actor. Lots of great chemistry between the 2 actors. Thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. And, the more I think of it, this is a film that has many life lessons that we can all think about and take in as a society. Those include the idea of 2nd chances and refraining from automatically judging a book by its cover. And, the boldest message in the film is that people should be more accepting and try not to look at everyones flaws, more importantly, to not let others opinions or thoughts get you down and to live your life regardless of what others think of you as a person. With lots of negativity and discrimination in the world, whether it be between different races, religions, etc, we as a society must learn to look past these differences and be more accepting. The film presents this in a very positive way and makes you feel genuinely good at the end. It is also a funny film with lots of good jokes and smart comedy as well. The film definitely made me think of how I could relate to it and could not agree more with the lessons in it. I would give this film 9 stars if I could as it is rare that the entertainment world produces anything so meaningful and significant.
age 12+

Great movie

Touching movie. It does show drug use but as a whole it shows real life and the change that can happen when someone cares. Loved it!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (12 ):

This charming, based-on-a-true-story dramedy will appeal to audiences who know and love its stars -- and it makes a point of showing viewers how to better treat people with disabilities. Unfortunately, normalizing disability may be easier said than done; as the movie reflects, well-intentioned people can awkwardly muck up attempts to be kind and instead project pity, while others find it easier to just ignore the disabled. An example is clearly needed, and The Upside aims to offer just that by showing, rather than telling, when it comes to being an example of inclusion and understanding.

But there is a downside. The film embraces clichés. A poor black man's life is changed for the better by a rich white man. A Harvard-educated woman (played by Nicole Kidman) abandons her career because of her compassionate nature. And race and class divisions are bridged thanks to smoking pot. The film more or less indoctrinates viewers into the belief that marijuana makes everything better, which is an interesting choice, considering that the pot scenes are Hollywood creations -- unlike some of the film's other iffy material, which stems from reality (the real duo who inspired the film did make a game of speeding and then tricking police). While the film wasn't made for kids, those behind it seem to be aware that kids will likely see it -- hence the clever dialogue and camera work that dance around sexual implications so that nothing inappropriate actually occurs. Bottom line? The film amuses, entertains, and educates, and viewers are likely to exit the theater on a high note, but it may also inadvertently encourage younger viewers to go get high.

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