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  • Jay Hahr

"The Upside" Gives Disability a Front Row Seat in Hollywood

People with disabilities are people first. However, we aren’t always portrayed that way in movies and television.

In the past, people with disabilities were often portrayed as childlike or untouchable. Over the past couple of decades however, Hollywood has made various attempts to portray people with disabilities more dramatically. One such example was in the movie “Million Dollar Baby,” starring Clint Eastwood. The trend continued with the movie “Me Before You.” These movies addressed the serious side of disability.

Hollywood is attempting yet again to address disability on the silver screen with the movie “The Upside,” which opens January 11 – this time from a comedic standpoint. The movie stars heavyweight actors Brian Cranston, Kevin Hart, and Nicole Kidman.

The movie is about a quadriplegic billionaire, played by Cranston, and an ex-convict played by Kevin Hart. “The Upside” chronicles their unique friendship and is based on a book by Abdel Sellou. It was shot in 2017, but due to its parent company shutting down, it has taken longer to open in theaters.

With "The Upside" coming out when television shows featuring people with disabilities and autism are showing real staying power -- “Speechless,” “The Good Doctor,” and “Atypical” -- perhaps having well-known actors in leading roles will serve to push disability to the forefront of the public consciousness on a more permanent basis. Only time will tell. Check back in a couple of weeks for a review of “The Upside.”

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