50/50

PhotobucketSerious drama (with touches of light comedy) concerns a young man who is diagnosed with cancer and how the announcement impacts the people in his life. His girlfriend, his best buddy and his mother are among those affected. Their reactions and also his own ability to deal with the tragic news motivates the storyline. It’s the acting that raises this dramedy above mediocrity. It’s lucky that the low key script was able to attract the attention of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston, all high profile actors. Star Gordon-Levittt is especially magnetic in the lead role. He’s understandably sympathetic and quite appealing. It’s essentially his show as everything revolves around him. Also of note is actress Anna Kendrick as Katherine. She’s perfectly winning in her part as his young and inexperienced therapist. They have a tentative, almost awkward, banter that is very engaging. Seth Rogan plays another variation of the pot-smoking slacker he performs in every movie. Here though he’s sweet and displays several touching moments as his best friend.

The chronicle is thoughtful, funny and moving, which is somewhat expected given the subject matter. Screenwriter Will Reiser, cousin of comedian Paul Reiser, based the saga on his own experiences. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary here.  The action deals with everyday life. This is the kind of picture that rests on the strength of the performances. Given the actors involved, you expect it’s going to be good and the noteworthy cast doesn’t disappoint. Everyone contributes heartfelt work. The portrayals are entertaining and it all unfolds in a way that is never routine.

What ultimately sells the story is Joseph Gordon-Levitt and our genuine sympathy for his plight. We are emotionally invested in his circumstances. There is real drama in how things turn out for our protagonist. Thematically, cancer ranks up there with the Holocaust as an enjoyable topic for a film. At times, the narrative can be a bit maudlin. It’s a tribute to Gordon-Levitt’s talent that he infuses his character with enough likeability and humor to make the rough parts easier to take. The picture doesn’t re-invent the wheel. It simply succeeds on honest emotion.

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9 Responses to “50/50”

  1. “Honest emotion”, is exactly what did it for me. So many little connections and heartfelt moments captured me, emotionally. Grade A acting too. J.G.L. is great in every movie he does.

  2. Buddy Mark, you have a really great blog. Your movies are more recent than those that I review, though I was wondering what you might think of my wares.

    http://www.comicbookandmoviereviews.com/

  3. Nice review! I didn’t know what to expect since I’ve read some people complaining about this film because “cancer is never funny”. I think it just shows some ways to cope with cancer and THOSE situations are what’s funny. I haven’t seen it yet, you can correct me on this, but I doubt it goes as far as to ridicule something as serious as cancer.

    Oh, and nice cast, by the way!

    • No it doesn’t ridicule at all. That’s why a called it a serious drama with touches of light comedy. It’s very well done. Do you like Joseph Gordon-Levitt? He’s very good in this.

  4. I have to ask if there are any similarities between this and Funny People? Both star Seth Rogen as a friend of someone with cancer, and they both sort of deal with relationships.

    I loved Funny People, and I think I would love this. Just curious.

    • I could be wrong, but I thought Adam Sandler was playing someone who was suffering from Leukemia in Funny People. No matter. The comparison is still a good one. I, however, never saw Funny People. I still plan to though (someday).

      P.S. Writer Evan Goldberg (Pineapple Express) co-produced both films as well.

      • Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow, but yea. I think that’s what he had. I’ll let you know how similar they are once I’ve seen this one.

  5. Great review! I think this film might be the best I’ve seen in 2011.

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