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October 26, 2016

Hart, Cranston tackling race dynamics when 'Untouchables' films in Philly

Filmmaking Celebrities
102616_CranstonHart Rebecca Cabbage/Jordan Strauss/AP

Kevin Hart (L) poses for a portrait to promote The Wedding Ringer movie. Bryan Cranston (R) arrives at MPTF's 95th Anniversary Celebration "Hollywood's Night Under The Stars."

Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston will be coming to Philadelphia to film the majority of The Weinstein Company's American adaptation of "The Untouchables," a popular French movie about a paraplegic aristocrat who hires a black, unemployed ex-con to be his caregiver.

The Greater Philadelphia Film Office announced Wednesday that the superstar pairing will film at various locations in the region under the lead of director Neil Berger, who previously directed Bradley Cooper's wonder drug hit "Limitless" in Philadelphia.

"We don't know how many days it will be," said GPFO spokeswoman Amira Smith, "but we're always grateful for the work that comes through and the economic impact it has over the region."

Smith couldn't confirm whether Hart's upbringing in Philadelphia had any additional impact on Berger's decision to film in Philly.

Released in France in 2011, "Les Intouchables" has generally gotten positive reviews since crossing the Atlantic with subtitles. New York Times' film critic A.O. Scott called it an "ingratiating comedy of cross-racial friendship," adding that it pulls every emotional lever:

You will laugh; you will cry; you will cringe. The caricatures are astonishingly brazen, as ancient comic archetypes — a pompous master and a clowning servant right out of Molière — are updated with vague social relevance, an overlay of Hollywood-style sentimentality and a conception of race that might kindly be called cartoonish.

It's hard to imagine Hart and Cranston will do something quite as slapdash in "The Untouchables," which presents Hart the chance to seize a serious role and Cranston a chance to ride the crankery of recent leads in HBO's "All The Way" and "Trumbo." 

A "simplistic reduction of racial stereotypes," as Roger Ebert characterizes the French film, would also be a sorely missed opportunity for an oftentimes divided U.S. audience.

The screenplay by Jon Hartmere will be his first feature-length work. 

Here's the trailer for the original.

Internationally, the French film grossed $416 million, so it's no surprise TWC called in two of Hollywood's biggest names for the American remake.

Filming in Philly is expected to begin in early 2017.