A single moment can change the entire course of someone’s life.
A man sees a yogurt ad featuring a beautiful model and falls in love. A young woman pursues an art history degree instead of joining the Navy. A young British ad executive takes an interview in New York for a job he doesn’t need but is interested in.
Ana Santos doesn’t regret her decision to study art history, but it wasn’t exactly her dream to crash on her sister’s futon while working a low-paying job at Erwin’s Auction House.
But all that changes after a series of chance events.
The morning of a big auction, Ana stains her shirt on her way to work. Her perfectionist boss, Claire, notices and sends her to the back office so nobody will see. While she’s there, Ana discovers an error in the auction catalog—something she wouldn’t have noticed if she hadn’t been hidden away. She alerts Claire, earns the strict woman’s respect and soon finds herself invited to England as Claire’s third assistant.
Now all of that would be enough to make anyone’s head spin. But the morning Ana is scheduled to fly out, Claire’s other two assistants, Suzette and Renee, trick Ana into arriving at the airport four hours early to help them with their bags.
Pitying Ana for the rude people she puts up with, the check-in clerk upgrades her to first class. And that unexpected upgrade alters the entire course of Ana’s life.
She meets a British ad executive, William, who, after mistaking Ana as the director of Erwin’s, introduces her to his model mother, Catherine—who just so happens to be selling her art collection.
Soon, Ana finds herself immersed in a life she never dreamed of having. And sure, it’s all based on a lie, but it’s also all thanks to a chance upgrade.
As you’d expect, Ana’s lies eventually catch up to her, and she faces some consequences with Claire. However, rather than whine, complain or even defend her bad choices, Ana apologizes. She takes responsibility for her actions, confessing the truth to William and Catherine as well. Along the way, she learns some valuable lessons about honesty.
A man volunteers his time coaching a children’s soccer team.
While discussing a piece of art, Ana touches on the Eastern spiritual concept of the balance between light and dark. A man says his existence came down to an advertisement, since his parents wouldn’t have met otherwise.
A man poses for an artist (his limbs are strategically placed to cover his groin, but his unclothed side profile is exposed). We also glimpse several erotic paintings.
Nobody has sex onscreen, but two scenes show couples kissing before the camera cuts away from their intimacy, the implication being that they are going to have sex. One couple makes out multiple times.
Several women wear outfits that show a lot of skin, including cleavage. A man lounges around in his underwear. We hear that Catherine has been married three times. Ana’s sister, Vivian, lives with her fiancé, Ronnie. Catherine’s best friend, Julian, is gay. Another man acts very effeminately. And it appears that a woman on the subway is doing a walk of shame.
There is a lot of suggestive innuendo in this film. Vivian and Ronnie complain that they haven’t been able to have sex since Ana came to stay with them. One of Claire’s assistants crassly suggests that Ana and her friend, Amy, are sexually promiscuous. William hints that his old schoolmates used to say crude things about his mother. A woman is advised not to sleep with anyone who looks like a certain actor. Several young women are creeped out by an older man at work who flirts with them. There’s a reference to the explicit show Bridgerton.
Suzette says she told her father to have a man “black-bagged” and sent to Guantanamo if he ever sets foot on American soil.
Ten uses of the f-word and 30 uses of the s-word. God’s name is abused about 20 times, paired once with “d–mit.” Christ’s name is also abused twice. We hear a handful of uses of “a–,” “a–hole,” “b–ch,” “p-ss” and “p–ck.”
A man pours whiskey into his coffee at work. Ana first runs into William, quite literally, when she accidentally spills an alcoholic beverage on him. Later on, he jokes that she’s an alcoholic. Claire advises Ana not to attempt outdrinking the locals.
People consume alcohol throughout the film, sometimes to excess. A few scenes take place in bars and clubs. We see some bottles of liquor in someone’s apartment. A few people smoke. Claire wonders if her employees are using drugs after they miss a typo in the auction catalog.
Claire is a perfectionist. And while that’s not inherently a bad thing, she’s incredibly mean to employees who don’t maintain her standards: She humiliates them in front of their coworkers, and she doesn’t even bother to learn their names. (She also tells a young man that she’ll blacklist him from every auction house and art gallery since he made a small mistake in her catalog.)
Claire’s assistants, Suzette and Renee, take after their boss in the worst ways possible. They’re condescending to everyone. And they pick on Ana in particular since they feel threatened by her. But instead of taking the high road, Ana sucks up to Claire and undermines the pair as often as possible.
Ana also betrays William and Catherine’s confidence. She uses them to get ahead at work—something that William hates, since people have done that to him his whole life. And after she makes a mistake, Ana insults William and essentially blames him for her bad decision.
Catherine leads an extravagant lifestyle, and folks at Erwin’s say some unkind things about the way she spends money. (Which is hypocritical, since they plan to make a fortune off her.) Even Ana is saddened to learn that Catherine has no appreciation for the art she is trying to pawn. Several people are shocked by the appearance of Catherine’s friend Julian, who is a famous artist, since he’s supposed to be dead (a deceptive ploy by Julian to make his art more valuable).
Amy, who is an artist, wonders if the only way to become famous is to die, since many famous artists were only recognized for their works posthumously. Ronnie rudely and repeatedly tells Ana she needs to move out. A man in a creepy clown costume rides the subway. Two women make incorrect assumptions about another woman’s ethnicity. Two people steal a pair of salt and pepper shakers from a plane.
A single, unforeseen circumstance changed Ana’s life forever. However, it wasn’t so much the upgrade to first class that placed her in William’s vicinity; rather, it was her decision to lie to him about who she was and what she did for a living.
Ana learns some valuable lessons about honesty in the messy aftermath of that decision. But it isn’t until after things spiral out of her control that she realizes the best thing she can do is to stop lying and to start taking responsibility for her actions.
It’s a good message. But unfortunately, the film’s R-rating undermines it a bit.
Language is the main content culprit here, with multiple uses of the f-word and s-word. But sexual situations also have a role to play. The film avoids explicit nudity (outside of some erotic paintings and a man’s bare thigh, seen from the side). That said, people talk about sex, there are some revealing outfits, some LGBT characters make an appearance, and it’s clear that people are having pre-marital sex behind the scenes.
Parents will also want to note that this film, while touting honesty as the best policy, also glamorizes extravagant lifestyles where folks use their connections to get ahead and throw money at problems instead of trying to fix them.
In short, Upgraded is a bit of a downgrade for families interested in a light-hearted romcom.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.