I hate happy endings, but I was way too invested to hope for anything else with this. And Anna Kendrick? Wow, I have the biggest crush on her right now.
There remains a lot of truth, especially in Joseph Gordon-Levitt's calm performance as Adam, a mid 20's man who is diagnosed with cancer. He reads that his particular type has a 50/50 survival rate, hence the film's title. The film follows Levitt as he goes through all of the "stages" of dealing with mortality, and what I found refreshing is that for the most part he looks at the situation head on - a kind of "it is what it is" fatalism where his veneer only cracks once.
Cancer also affects all those around the victim - for in fact, in a manner of speaking, they are victims themselves... watching someone close to you slowly lose vitality is a bitch. Here we have the girlfriend who ultimately can't deal with the issue; the mother (in a nice cameo by Anjelica Huston) who Adam tries to keep out of the loop- worrying that she will just worry too much about it all; and the best friend who uses humor to keep the bad thoughts at bay. Seth Rogan plays best friend Kyle in his usual overboard fashion - but here his shtick mostly works, especially when he reveals bits of a more humane side underneath the bravado.
For this topic a bit of humor is needed, and Rogan provides it, as well as a couple of older gents that Adam meets in chemo. There's a very nice segment where Adam gets stoned on medicinal macaroons and then walks down the hospital hallway, seeing degrees of what the future has in store for him. Nicely done!
About my only real complaint with the film is the performance of Anna Kendrick as Adam's crises counselor. Part of that lies in the script that has her portraying a 24 year old counseling intern - but she goes way overboard in her ditsy portrayal; making the film's subsequent interaction between patient and "doctor" a bit too "ah gee", in spite of an adequate ending sequence. Try as they might to inject some serious tone to both their relationship as well as the psychology of "that cancer thing", Kendrick's self effacing, kind of bumbling portrayal torpedoes the attempt; which is unfortunate, as really, the film does have some important things to say about the big C and how we, as compassionate humans, choose to deal with it.
Genre: Comedy. Drama
Question: If you are given the odds of 50% when diagnosed with cancer, what is your first thought: 50% chance you'll beat it or do you think 50% chance you are going to die? The movie 50/50 represents one cancer patient's progression with discovering his diagnosis while receiving those odds. I will have to admit the movie showed a rather accurate portrayal, in my opinion.
I know I put a lot of my personal life in these reviews but since movies try depicting stories we can relate to, I sometimes feel compelled to share my correlations and why I enjoyed the film or not. Although I did not have cancer, I did have a rather serious illness a few years back. While watching 50/50 I was in awe, but sometimes uncomfortable, at how close it came to reality when you to discover you are really sick.
1. You get the news: you have an outer body experience.
2. In the beginning you are irrationally calm.
3. You worry about others more than yourself.
4. Then fear slowly takes over.
5. You push people away.
6. And finally you accept the possibility that you could die.
7. Well, this last part is up to you and if you see the glass as half full or half empty...
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, the 27 year-old who receives the news that he has a rare form of cancer. For the next 90 minutes you see his life veer off a set path he had for himself. He is a fairly anal fellow who is a stickler about being on time for everything, a clean-freak and he never attempts to go out of his comfort zone. He even doesn't drive, which I never figured out why but I have my theories. It's his reactions and emotions that pulled me into this story. He did a fabulous job at playing sick, vulnerable and courageous.
I don't want to share anymore details about the story specifically, but the characters that took part in Adam's illness are worth a discussion or two. Bryce Dallas Howard plays his girlfriend. She really is getting very good at playing characters you really love to hate; however, she might have played one of the most realistic characters in 50/50. Some people fear death and dying or the ill and the reactions that come from that never surprise me...now.
Angelica Houston plays Adam's mother. Oh boy! She played it exactly how mothers respond when they hear their own child is ill. All mothers worry - it's a fact. However, they also keep many things to themselves and that discovery may shock some of their children. Angelica Houston did an outstanding job at portraying the worry, the fear and the self-reliance one requires when her world comes crashing down. No Terms of Endearment moments although it got close.
Seth Rogen plays Adam's best friend (Kyle) who is slightly obnoxious, always trying to get laid, etc... but he ended up surprising me in this movie. Nope, I am not going to say how - see it for yourself. I am not the biggest Seth Rogen fan but have enjoyed a few of his movies. However, in 50/50 he was able to play the stereotypical best friend but with a twist. There is one scene, which I won't describe, but if you have ever had a friend and know you need proof to show them something to help them see the light - then see this scene. You will thoroughly enjoy it.
It states above that this is a comedy and a drama. This is true. There was one fellow in the theatre with me that laughed out loud a lot although it only made me smile. There were a few scenes in where I choked up, but I already said this hit too close to home for me. 50/50 did a fantastic job at portraying a life and death illness with some humor and real emotions. That's sort of rare so I recommend seeing this one.
My favorite part: The proof.
My least favorite part: That it hit a little too close to home for me.
Length: 99 minutes
Review: 7 out of 10
WHile there are some (much needed) laughs and moments of levity, this is mostly a very well made, emotional and sincere drama. Yes, it's the kind of thing that pulls on your heartstrings, but it's better done and less manipulative than something like Terms of Endearment. It's the kind of story where it doesn't have to have humor, but it makes things a little easier to handle, and also makes the film seem more genuine and down to Earth.
This is all tricky territory to get right tonally, but screenwriter Will Reiser (who based the script on his personal experiences) pulls it off almost completely flawlessly. The only real missteps I saw (and these are just gripes) are the way that the scenes with the doctor are handled (especially when Adam receives his diagnosis) and the general arc with Rachael. This film marked the second time in 2011 where Bryce Dallas Howard played an out of touch bitch that you just love to hate. Her scenes aren't terrible, but they felt kinda flat. I used to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe becaue I was hoping she'd really be more than just an attractive face, but I'm really starting to feel like she doesn't have the talent she seemed to posess.
Other than that, this is a great movie. Rogen's portrayal of Kyle is one of his best. Yeah, it seems very simialr to sosme of his pat work, but there's a nuance to it, and you get the feeling that the way his character acts (even if it includes taking advantage of Adam's situation for his personal gain) is on;y becaue that's the only way he knows how to deal with the situation. I also really loved the supporting appearances by Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as two older cancer patients who show Adam the ropes to a degree, and also how the film doesn't entirely go for a full on romance between Adam and Katherine.
This is a good mix of humor, sadness, and every other emotion in between, and the result is a fantastic film. Levine knocked it out of the park with The Wackness (I thought), and he's done it once again with this one. Highly recommended.
Everyone's been giving Joseph Gordon-Levitt much praise for his recent outings ("500 Days of Summer", "Inception") and you can see how he is developing more and more as an actor; however, I'm one of the few that doesn't think he's particularly GREAT as many say he is. Don't get me wrong, there is a pivotal scene in "50/50" that Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulls off magnificently but overall, he's a bit dry in his performances. His chemistry with Seth Rogen's character doesn't carry a tangible quality and his relationship with the actresses isn't very believable. But because of Gordon-Levitt's experience, it isn't a movie-breaker -- it's just those with a keen eye for solid acting may be let down by his performance.
But he isn't the real culprit for 50/50's lack of substance; its the screenplay. The dialogue is very minimal -- so minimal to the point where the audience can clearly see that certain plot elements aren't elaborated on because of the filmmaker's fear of an inadequate movie. This isn't to say that the movie sucks. When the audience sees the struggles Gordon-Levitt's character needs to face, they're invested and interested, but for most of the movie, they're not convinced of the characters' relationships.
There isn't much to say about the movie but the fact that it executes the story and drama in an entertaining way but not the dialogue. The comedic value has much to be desired for but it isn't enough to avoid this movie.