Movie reviews: The Upside, The Mule
THE UPSIDE (PG13)
RATING: 3 stars
Packed with humour and a side of cheese, The Upside is a feel-good movie likely to warm your heart and leave you grinning throughout.
Based on a true story, it revolves around wealthy quadriplegic Phillip (Bryan Cranston) who hires recently paroled former convict Dell (Kevin Hart) to be his caretaker.
An unlikely friendship is forged as Dell does more than help Phillip survive - he gives Phillip a reason to live.
This Hollywood remake has more laugh-out-loud moments than the 2011 original The Intouchables.
Apart from that and the change in setting from Paris to Manhattan, director Neil Burger has made few changes to the hit French comedy-drama.
After years of making his name doing slapstick comedy, Hart actually shows some heart here. And Cranston's standout performance does not allow the audience to sympathise with him. Rather, he impresses by invoking a sense of freedom and strength. - RUTH PHANG
THE MULE (M18)
RATING: 3 stars
Clint Eastwood stars as Earl Stone, a man in his 80s who is broke and alone, and is offered a job as a drug courier for a cartel.
Trouble ensues when the new "mule" ends up hitting the radar of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent (Bradley Cooper).
This is directed by Eastwood himself and is loosely inspired by the true events of an elderly man who became the most successful drug mule in the history of the Sinaloa cartel.
There is clearly the nugget of an interesting story, but the script fails to match its star power.
Fine actors such as Dianne Wiest (playing Earl's ex-wife) and Laurence Fishburne (as a special agent) are lumped with dry, exposition-heavy dialogue. We get a lethargic collection of flat scenes.
Yet The Mule remains soulful and satisfying because even when the film feels like the tired musings of an old man, it retains honesty.
Eastwood's razor-sharp and masterful performance is defined by a degree of self-awareness. - NUR SYAHINDAH ISHAK