50/50 (2011)

50-50

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Real and Emotional

Loss of loved ones is commonly a theme in emotional dramatic films, but not so much comedy, really. Cancer, of course, is a very popular subcategory in the theme of death, because it is a real thing that real people go through every day. Movies on cancer aren’t new; striking an emotional chord that helps the audience connect with the patient is harder to achieve (from my history and understanding with film). One movie that was able to have just enough realistic drama, emotion, and comedy while dealing with cancer is 50/50.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has just found out that he has a severe and cancerous tumor in his back, which if not dealt with, will kill him. Starting off on chemo, Adam shaves his head to avoid the embarrassment of hair falling out. Meanwhile, his friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) attempts to help him live his life to the max while his young therapist (Anna Kendrick) attempts to help him the old fashioned way. The chemo is trying to shrink the tumor so the doctors can easily take it out, but things may not be as easy as one, two, three.

I think the biggest issue I had with this film was trying to place the plot. What goal is Adam striving towards? Well, I guess it’s just to fight; to live. I initially had a problem with that, but after I thought about it, that’s the most honest and true goal a person can have…it’s practically primitive in its own way. So after I got over that, the movie got much better. Everything ranging from the realism, to the direction, to the writing, to the editing was done superbly. However, you can’t get away with reviewing this movie without mentioning the acting and chemistry.

Part of what holds this entire film together was the casting, acting, and chemistry of the players. Levitt couldn’t have done a better job at playing a dying cancer patient dealing with life suddenly getting a deadline. Anna Kendrick as the therapist was brilliantly written…who else is going to think of a young student at a training hospital as the main therapist? Her character was able to really get down on his level and get through to him more than any other therapist could. Seth Rogen as his friend was also amazing. Their friendship is one of opposition. Nothing about them is really similar in any way, yet they have tremendous chemistry and work so well together. Yes, I did get annoyed by Seth Rogen being Seth Rogen a bit too much in the film, but in a strange way, it does work. Without him playing the friend, I’d imagine the movie would be a lot worse off.

I also want to thank whoever was responsible for the writing. Whoever you are, you have been through loss, but you’re able to take that and show how you feel about it. You are able to show how much it saddens us to sense hopelessness towards a dying family member, but you are also able to produce joy in celebrating who they are and what they mean to you. It’s not a simple task to produce such emotion when it needs to. Comedy is easy. Drama is easy. Emotion is hard work because it is the main ingredient to an audience being able to connect with the movie. Well, emotion was done right in this movie; almost exactly right.

I am a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and this movie is no exception. The man can pick a role and use the role wisely. If he continues to pick roles as he has so far, he is going far in this world.

::what others had to say::

“The biggest reason this movie succeeds in toeing the fine line between comic and tragic without falling into the realm of insensitive is screenwriter Will Reiser.” – Cut the Crap Movie Reviews

“The script by Will Reiser does a perfect job of balancing out both the comedy, the drama, and the cancer with this challenging premise.” – Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews

“It never lingers too long on a single moment, a single emotion, a single idea or feels preachy. ” – Ries: The Cinematic Katzenjammer

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