Monday, October 3, 2011


Directed by Jonathan Levine, Mandate Pictures, 2011. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Angelica Houston.

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

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.

Rating: R
Length: 99 minutes

Review: 7 out of 10


Jen and Tonic said...

Thanks for writing a review on this movie! I was really curious as to how a movie like this could possibly be funny, but apparently it can be done.

Tired of Previews said...

Thanks Jen - it is a bit more on the male side of humor but I have feeling you might get it ;-)


Dan O. said...

Mixing humor and painful subject matter is, naturally, very difficult. The beauty of this movie is that it does so with ease, especially with such good actors in these roles as well. Good review. Check out my review when you get a chance.

Tired of Previews said...

I agree Dan. Life isn't always easy to portray but they balanced out the humor and reality of the illness well.
Thanks for commenting.