Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Kyle (Seth Rogen) are not only colleagues but also best friends, although Adam would sometimes deny that, especially when Kyle is criticizing the fact that Adam is dating Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard).
Then Adam’s world comes crashing down. Shortly after learning that he has a rare cancer in his back he finds his relationship with Rachael in tatters. Adam must use his own strength to get through the fight while be able to lean on his student-psych, Katherine (Anna Kendrick), keeping his mother, Diane (Anjelica Huston) calm and hoping that Kyle can step up and become the friends he has always hoped he can be.
There are certain things that are just not okay, or shouldn’t be laughed at. You shouldn’t laugh at the fact that Channing Tatum believes he is a serious actor or anything that Adam Sandler says that he believes he is a joke… then there is a cancer. Actually cancer is something that is probably pretty high up on the list of things that you shouldn’t laugh at so it’s for that reason if you turn to a close friend and say “hey do you want to sit down and watch this latest Seth Rogen comedy about cancer?” then you will probably get a response along the lines of “you want to watch a comedy about cancer? What kind of sicko are you?”
Those responses were to be expected but what you wouldn’t be expecting is just how funny and how touching 50/50 really is. This is the kind of film that finds itself going above being just another chuckle worthy film and becomes a tasteful comedy that in some ways can educate the public to what it actually feels like for somebody to suddenly find themselves in the midst of a battle with the Big C.
Screenwriter, Will Reiser actually needs to be congratulated for the way his script manages to not only be sensitive to cancer and cancer patients but also remaining laugh-out-loud funny. And to his credit it’s not like Reiser decided to sit down and write a completely politically correct film about cancer because some of the lines he has written sees Seth Rogen at his absolute crassest… and although some film lovers may baulk at the concept of the film it is guaranteed that soon they will be laughing their heads off.
Thankfully for director, Jonathan Levine the story isn’t too predictable either. Things seem to come out of leftfield and even the friendship between Adam and Katherine runs an unusual path… no stereotypes or clichés to be found anywhere. Yes this is a film that contains a mixture of things from a romance, to a buddy-buddy relationship through to some good medical comedy.
The person who really steals the show though here is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Sometimes it becomes easy to forget what a fine actor he is and that he has movies like Mysterious Skin and Brick in his back catalogue. Then along comes a film like 50/50 and ones again you are reminded that he is one of the most underrated actors of our time. He is well supported by Rogen who seems to enjoy the comedy-mixed-with-a-bit-of-meat role and this is certainly amongst the better films he has made during his career. Also stepping up is Anna Kendrick who at the time as stepping straight off the Twilight set into a film that many thought was above her. She certainly used 50/50 to show what she was capable of and hasn’t looked back since.
If you can get past the shock that you are about to watch a comedy film that centres around cancer then you are in for a real treat with 50/50. Yes this is a film that will have you laughing along with the great screenplay but it is the kind of film that is well worth a watch if a close friend or relative has been diagnosed with cancer because it can serve as a pretty entertaining educational tool as well. This is the kind of film that the term ‘comedy with heart’ was created for.
Director: Jonathan Levine
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston
Running Time: 100 mins
Release Date: 26th March 2012
Formats: DVD, Blu-Ray