When “The Intouchables” came out in 2011, it was a massive hit in its native France. The crowd-pleasing comedy, based on the true story of a white, wealthy quadriplegic and the black ex-con who became his unlikely caregiver and friend, burst all kinds of box-office records. It was clear watching it back then that someone, someday would take that movie, remake it in English, populate it with Hollywood stars and cash in on this feel-good tale all over again.
That day has come. The movie is “The Upside.” And as you’d probably expect—or at least as I expected—it’s a hollow replica of its source material.
Director Neil Burger (“Limitless,” “Divergent”) has recreated specific scenes, images and jokes from the original, but never manages to conjure the same sly charm as “Intouchables” writers and directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano did. A Hitler joke that seemed daring the first time around falls flat here, for example. Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart give it their all in taking over the roles Francois Cluzet and the hugely charismatic Omar Sy inhabited, but they never enjoy the same sort of chemistry (or any at all, for that matter).