I say in my Stardust review that, even though we're only a couple of weeks into January, this is probably the feel-good movie of the year. Obviously a bit of an over exaggeration on my part, but I'll be damned if the movie didn't make me feel something by the end of it. I have the feeling it'll sort of remain in the back of my head all year, at the very least, as something that had me leaving the theater with a smile on my face.
The story has to do with a wealthy quadriplegic man named Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) who needs help with his day-to-day life. Interview upon interview comes through, with more than experienced people, but Lacasse wants to land on a more unlikely candidate.
Enter Dell Scott (Kevin Hart); an ex convict out on parole. He's on the lookout for work in order to support his estranged wife and kid. Despite Dell having no experience, and against his personal assistant's (Nicole Kidman) wishes, Phillip hires him on. The beginnings of the relationship are a bit awkward, but soon a friendship between them grows as Phillip cultures Dell with things like opera music, and Dell shows Phillip how to unwind and have a good time.
The concept is nothing we haven't seen before, to be perfectly fair. Street-wise guy meets rich, stuck up guy and hey teach each other a thing or two about where they are from. All the while this generally formulates into the scenario of "we had more in common than we thought" ('Breakfast Club' style). But while perhaps formulaic, this film was certainly not without its charm.
Bryan Cranston does a great job here, as usual. Nicole Kidman is decent in her role, however the role, itself, I wasn't a huge fan of. But Kevin Hart actually does a good job with flexing his acting muscles here. It's not like it's an Oscar-worthy, shocking performance; he's still joking around and having fun. But you do get to see a certain side of him here that isn't as common as his typical loudmouth comedy relief characters. There are no jokes about his height, either, which is SUPER refreshing, as that dead horse has been beaten so hard it died twice.
This is pretty much an Americanized version of a French film, you may have heard of from 2011 called 'The Intouchables'. I haven't watched it yet, so I can't necessarily give a proper comparison, but from what I've heard, it's essentially the same story with a few odd changes here and there. The interesting thing is, this is the third remake of 'The Intouchables' after an Indian film called 'Oopiri', and an Argentinian film called 'Inseparables', which leads me to think that there's something appealing about this film, universally. Perhaps it's the clash of cultures, perhaps it's the good feeling of helping your fellow man. But despite any of the film's flaws, I have to say that for myself, I just left feeling kinda good and refreshed. There's an element of "hope" in this movie, as well, which for me, generally scores points. Weight it against something like 'The Bucket List' where you know from the get-go that the characters are gonna die (not a spoiler, it's the whole theme of the damned movie).
For as much as I personally don't mind that movie, even I can admit that the premise is pretty cheap in order to get a few tears from the audience. So while this isn't overly emotional, you do still get a lot of heart from it. I found myself laughing with the characters a lot of the time, and that's what really did it for me. You just have a good time with these guys. I dunno, maybe that's just me 'cause I'm kinda going against the grain compared to other criticisms on this movie. But what more can I say? In a way, this film just spoke to me.