Why America Does Not Need Its Own ‘Intouchables’
Out of a rich world of literature and internal gold available for adaptation, Neil Burger and Jon Hartmere are, for very obscure reasons, converting the offensive French ‘Intouchables’ into a farce for America. The Uncle Tom kind of racism, which one believes to have been thrown out of America, was brought back in a shamelessly endearing way by French moviemakers Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache. English critics shunned this movie with utter disgust, yet it went on to become one of UK’s highest grossing film. Instances like these render a lucid idea that why ‘blockbusters’ can never often be good movies. The turn up of viewers in cinemas amidst the critical disdain was a coherent interpretation of the harsh reality that there is something terribly wrong with the mindset of the white population today.
For a film that was by no means ‘watchable’ in context of its racial attitudes, getting adapted in America was something foreseeable. (We elected a racist for president; our supreme justice is a rapist, so a movie of like flavor will surely fit into this era of ignorance.)
Hollywood is basically getting its own ‘Intouchables’ in ‘Upside’. It is a remake of the French 2011 film The Intouchables which was itself inspired by the life of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. The film follows a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston) who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a recently paroled convict (Kevin Hart). Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, and Aja Naomi King also star. Filming began in Philadelphia in January 2017. The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It is scheduled for release on January 11, 2019, by STX Entertainment and Lantern Entertainment.
The film tried to bond a white aristocrat (who has been isolated to a mere emotionless cocoon of luxury) with a black slave. The order of the system is still pretty much the same: there is more warmth, but the master is still white. In the movie, the household help Driss embodies every aspect of racism and class; the comedic voice tries to tone down its visibility, but in vain. Driss is no more than a performing monkey. When Driss dons a suit, Magalie tells him he looks like President Obama; as if the only black man in a suit could be the president. What made things worse, is how the makers tried to laugh things out in a joke, oblivious of the senselessness of racism.
If America renews this doltish garbage of a film, it will only further hurt the sentiments of people yearning for a social sense of equality. The president wants to literally dump off everyone he does not find orange, women have been left flabbergasted with the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh despite all protest. Thus- if these cynical times-the media approves of negligent social behavior it will only increase the profound disillusionment the nation is currently entrapped in.
The Upside too, even before its formal release, has seen tremendous roadblocks. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2017. Though It was initially planned that the movie will be released in the United States on March 9, 2018, In January 2018 the Weinstein Scandal pushed its release indefinitely ahead. In August 2018, it was announced STX Entertainment would be partnering with the renamed studio, Lantern Entertainment to launch the film. After several scheduling changes, the film will now release on 11th January 2019.
In its initial release at the Toronto film festival, Upside was rigorously analyzed by critics. The result just underpins all the statements made above, the film holds a terrible 5.5 rating, and that too for the splendid theatrics by its skilled troupe of actors. Critics were largely taken back by how the film tried to address racial constraints as they did centuries ago. Precisely, if the film hits our screens and gets an audience larger than that of this year’s Predator; it will remind us how we have failed as humanity.