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Is The Upside Based On A True Story? Or Is It Inspired From The Intouchables?

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The Upside is loosely based on a true story… Ex-con Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) becomes a life auxiliary for depressed paraplegic Phillip Lacasse in the new film (directed by Limitless’ Neil Burger) (Bryan Cranston). As is customary in this genre of film, the couple learns a lot from each other that they never knew before, giving them a new lease on life. Given the traditional feel-good attitude of the film, it may come as a surprise to hear that The Upside is based on a true story, with some closing text noting that Dell and Phillip remain friends to this day.

The Upside is a remake of the French film The Intouchables, but set in New York instead of Paris. The 2011 release was a huge smash in both its own nation and the United States, grossing $444.8 million worldwide and ranked 40th on the IMDB Top 250. Since it exploded in popularity, an English-language adaptation has been in the works, with Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, Idris Elba, Chris Tucker, Colin Firth, Jessica Chastain, and Michelle Williams all linked at various points. When Kevin Hart joined the cast in 2014, the movie began to take shape. This implies that The Upside is a remake from a specific perspective.

The Intouchables, on the other hand, isn’t an original plot; it’s based on Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s and Abdel Sellou’s real-life memoirs. The Upside’s ending alludes at this, but it’s clearly misleading: two persons named Phillip and Dell exist, but they go by other identities and live on the other side of the world. So, while The Upside is based on a genuine story, it is told through the lens of another film.

The Big Differences Between The Upside & The True Story

Despite the trans-Atlantic translation, The Upside includes several real-life anecdotes from Philippe and Abdel’s lives, owing to their portrayal in The Intouchables (which Philippe advised on). Abdel did tune up his employer’s wheelchair so it could run at 9mph, the pair did swap joints, and Abdel did learn a passion for classical music during the opening scene of rushing through the city and using Phillip’s infirmity to get out of a citation. However, several facts that were taken over from the French film were clearly not true: Philippe’s facial hair was never shaved to resemble Hitler’s, and the tea incident in the restaurant in The Upside alludes to a fictional event in The Intouchables in which Abdel uses boiling water to test his boss’s lack of feeling.

What makes The Upside (and its predecessor) so intriguing is what it chooses to leave out. The main difference is that Philippe’s wife didn’t die of cancer until after Abdel entered his life, and their friendship was crucial in helping him prepare for and deal with the loss. His wife is dead before the movie starts in both films, and she is a major incentive for the millionaire’s apathy.

Leaving aside the true story, there are several differences between The Upside and The Intouchables: Philippe has an adopted daughter in the French film, his relationship with his pen pal is more tense (he doesn’t show up for their date, and the ending note is of the pair together), and Driss (Dell’s name in the film) is let go to focus on his family rather than after an argument. However, the films convey a very similar story in a very similar way at their core.

There have been various Indian translations of The Intouchables – Oopiri was released in both Tamil and Telugu languages, while a Bollywood version is in progress – as well as an Argentinian, Spanish-language take Inseparables. All of these films can claim to be based on true events while also relocating the French original film to a different setting. The Upside is truly a worldwide tale.

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