SMA News Forums Forums Our Community Adults ​With​ ​SMA Controversy Surrounds New Film “The Upside”

  • Controversy Surrounds New Film “The Upside”

    Posted by kevin-schaefer on January 10, 2019 at 7:00 am

    I’ve posted about this before, but the new film “The Upside” is a controversial subject among many disability stories, primarily over the fact that the main character is a quadriplegic played by able-bodied actor Bryan Cranston. Huffington Post just ran an article about it after Cranston was interviewed: https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5c34df7fe4b05d4e96bd2076.

    I’ll be writing a column about this after I see the film, but I wanted to hear your thoughts. Cranston is one of my favorite actors and I’ve read his memoir, but I do think he should have let a qualified disabled actor take this role. Just my opinion, but feel free to share your thoughts.

    kevin-schaefer replied 5 years, 6 months ago 7 Members · 15 Replies
  • 15 Replies
  • adnan-hafizovic

    Member
    January 10, 2019 at 10:40 am

    what makes me most annoying in these films is that the main character that has some kind of disability is a rich person. It was similar to Me Before You. The reality is that most of us are not millionaires, and I think that in these films, you need a little more real life and not sweet stories.

    • kevin-schaefer

      Member
      January 10, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      That’s a great point! These stories are one in a million. The majority of us in wheelchairs are just everyday, middle-class people.

  • kelly-miller

    Member
    January 10, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    Yes, I agree with you Adnan! It’s easy for someone with lots of money to find caregivers, purchase assistive devices, & live a generally comfortable life physically. I haven’t seen the movie yet either, but I plan on watching as soon as possible in order to give a better opinion.

    I also agree with you, Kevin! The 1st thing I said to my husband when I saw the trailers was that they could have picked a real quad to play that part. Now, maybe they were looking for name recognition to act opposite Kevin Hart, but it wouldn’t have been necessary, and finding a truly disabled person would have added to the realism of the movie.

    I’m very interested in seeing this movie since I absolutely HATED Me before You, every single part of it. Also, make sure we read those synopses of this movie, because I’ve already found one that said he was a paraplegic instead. It just shows the industry’s overall ignorance when it comes to disabilities.

    • kevin-schaefer

      Member
      January 10, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      At the very least it gets people talking, but seriously by now Hollywood should employ more actors with disabilities. They’re out there, and the whole “name-recognition” argument that producers use is a weak excuse. ABC’s “Speechless” features a disabled actor who wasn’t a big name before the show started, and people love that show.

      And ugh, “Me Before You.” I refused to see it because the premise was both bad and an insult to people with disabilities.

  • ryan-berhar-2

    Member
    January 10, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    I’m excited to see this because I’m a huge fan of Cranston in Breaking Bad, and Kevin Hart is Kevin Hart. I’ll reserve judgment until I see it, though. I’m hoping it’ll just be fun, and not have some agenda behind it.

    • kevin-schaefer

      Member
      January 11, 2019 at 9:14 am

      I don’t really think there’s an “agenda” behind this movie, but I hope it provides a semi-accurate depiction of a character with a disability and his relationship with his caregiver. But like we’ve talked about here, “rich guy who had an accident that put him in a wheelchair” isn’t at all reflective of our lives. I wish there were more mainstream stories about a) everyday people with disabilities and b) people who were born with disabilities.

      • ryan-berhar-2

        Member
        January 11, 2019 at 9:41 pm

        If I’m not mistaken, this is based on a true story, so it’s not like they’re just making it up. It’s not the norm though. Makes for a more exciting movie I guess haha.

      • kevin-schaefer

        Member
        January 13, 2019 at 3:56 pm

        Yeah but there are still stories out there with more relatable characters with disabilities that are great. For instance, a movie version of the Zach Anner memoir “If At Birth You Don’t Succeed” would be awesome.

  • halsey-blocher

    Member
    January 10, 2019 at 8:59 pm

    I wonder if there were any disabled actors that auditioned for the part? If not, it would make sense to have an able bodied actor. I’m personally not opposed to able bodied actors playing disabled characters as long as the portrayal seems accurate, and like I said, there weren’t disabled actors who wanted the role.

    • kevin-schaefer

      Member
      January 11, 2019 at 9:07 am

      That’s a good question. I’m not a stickler for “every disabled character has to be played by an able-bodied actor,” but I do think that this trend of able-bodied actors playing these roles is too prevalent. More disabled actors deserve opportunities.

  • jenny-rellick

    Member
    January 10, 2019 at 10:47 pm

    In movies about protagonists with acquired disabilities (the predominant Hollywood disability type,) it seems like there are always scenes showing the character briefly strutting before the injury or walking in a dream sequence.  I wonder if those scenes are deliberate to avoid the possibility of a disabled actor.  The first rule of screenplay writing is, “Start as close to the end as possible.” That should mean starting with the character having a disability at the start and creating a story arch moving forward.  If the character must look back,  use a body double!

     

    • kevin-schaefer

      Member
      January 11, 2019 at 9:10 am

      Great point Jenny! That is a really annoying cliche that does violate screenwriting principles. Those scenes are so pointless, and you’re absolutely right that they can be used as an excuse to not cast an actor with a disability.

    • deann-r

      Member
      January 11, 2019 at 4:35 pm

      Interesting theory. I agree, use a body double. Hollywood does it all the time. I do think it’s difficult to cast relatively unknown actors for these major rolls, but hopefully over time this will change.

  • deann-r

    Member
    January 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing this. Although I wish more disabled actors should get leading rolls, I don’t think it would have gotten as much attention if it were a lesser known actor. That’s something that needs to change. Like others have mentioned I hated Me Before You, so I’m hoping this is closer to hitting the mark. One aspect that does bother me is the whole PCA swooping in to transform the life of a sad disabled person. Does that make sense?

    • kevin-schaefer

      Member
      January 13, 2019 at 3:50 pm

      That was my concern too. I hope I’m wrong, but that does look like the narrative based on the trailer. It’s like, does every character with a disability have to be either a saint or hopelessly depressed? I wish there was more nuance in these types of movies.

Log in to reply.