I was SUPER skeptical of “50/50” going in. I figured the title was pretty apt – that 50/50 was just about the chance I’d have of liking it.
I mean, a cancer comedy? To me, that just seemed like an insurmountable oxymoron. Those two things do NOT go together. Added to which my “Tearjerker Alert System” was going off like mad. DANGER! DANGER!
But, in light of my newfound responsibilities as a movie blogger, and in the wake of some extremely positive early reviews… I headed in to watch the story of a young man diagnosed with cancer, and his buddy who tries his best to help.
I’m glad I did.
You need to know… “50/50” is NOT a comedy. Don’t let the marketing fool you, this does not belong in the comedy section of the DVD aisles. I understand why the studio would want to market it as such, of course. Comedy is going to sell more tickets than cancer. And it’s not to say the movie isn’t funny. It’s very funny. Frequently. I mean, the humor ratio is way higher in this movie than any other movie of its type. Easily.
But “50/50” is a serious movie about a serious illness.
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Adam, a young man who receives some extraordinarily difficult news. He has a rare form of cancer. There’s a tumor growing on his spine, and it’s life threatening. In fact, the survival rate for that particular type of cancer is 50/50. That’s not all he has to deal with, either. A life threatening illness disrupts everything you know… especially your relationships with other people. It plays havoc on his relationship with his girlfriend, his coworkers don’t know how to relate to him, and his Mother wants to smother him and care for him any way she can.
The only person in his life that maintains a semblance of normalcy with him is his best friend, Kyle, played by Seth Rogen. Rogen’s character does his best to keep things light, and normal, between the two. Not that he tries to pretend as if nothing is wrong, just that he tries to be the one person that isn’t going to act totally imbalanced around Adam. Adam has enough to deal with as it is. The relationship between the two of them is where the comedy comes through. There’s some irreverent moments, and as shown in the previews, the two do use Adam’s cancer to hit on chicks. The movie has some really funny lines, and has a real knack for making you laugh when you wouldn’t expect there to be anything funny.
But this is a serious movie. Joseph Gordon Levitt is really fantastic here, and you WILL wind up caring about his character.
There are a lot of people who are going to see this movie and wind up bawling, I’m sure. It was a pretty sniffle-full theatre when I saw it. Did it get me? No. Not quite. Let’s say…. if this were a party, the host pointed out “Crying Fogs” to me over across the room, and asked me if I wanted to go talk to him. I declined. But if I wanted to, he seemed like a pretty approachable guy.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t moved. I was. And impressed. This is a movie that doesn’t over dramatize anything, it doesn’t have to. It’s filled with funny, funny dialogue, which helps you to grow close to the characters. And above all, in addition to the excellent turn by Joseph Gordon Levitt, it has some really great performances across the board, notably Kendrick as Adam’s therapist, Huston as his mother, and Rogen as his friend, even though the role wasn’t much of a stretch.