You’ll laugh, you’ll cry for 50/50

Mike Mannarino

Unexpected, touching, well-scripted, humorous, and enjoyable, 50/50 is a surreal experience.

Loosely based on the true story of screenwriter Will Reiser’s battle with cancer, it tells the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learning to deal with life after being diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer.

Fellow journalist and best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) tries to help Adam cope. During the process he learns to cope with it himself, displaying a more serious side of the typically comedic actor we haven’t been exposed to in his past films.

Gordon-Levitt’s performance was Oscar-worthy. The camera was on him for the entire 100-minute run time and he did well to carry it along, displaying a wide range of acting skills from humour to sheer terror. He exceeded any expectations I may have had for his acting capabilities, and has definitely evolved from his days on Third Rock From the Sun.

Seth Rogen was able to keep his funny persona from affecting the serious subject matter, while still adding his usual brand of odd cultural humor to temporarily lighten  the mood. The use of comic relief was well played, and Rogen was the centerpiece.

The film’s supporting cast did well to complement the film. Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family, The Royal Tenenbaums) did a great job depicting Adam’s concerned, over-protective mother dealing with her son’s illness as a diversion from her own problems. Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) played Adam’s bashful psychiatrist. She and Gordon-Levitt had great on-screen chemistry.

Director Jonathan Levine cast Matt Frewer and Phillip Baker Hall as fellow cancer patients. They were featured in the chemotherapy sessions—which were not entirely necessary to the film’s progression, but still valuable to the movie’s overall charm. Levine was wise to sit back and let the actors do what they could to make this film great. The triumph in this film was the perfect casting.

The only real issue was the lack of character development. Of all the characters introduced in the film, only Gordon-Levitt’s character is explored further. The remaining characters were given minimal background information.

Fair warning if you are looking for a laugh-out-loud riot: this is not the film for you. The film has far too many serious moments to be considered a legitimate dramedy. With that said, I strongly recommend this film to anyone looking to be entertained with a rainbow of emotions.

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By Excalibur Publications



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