Written by John Delia
When I see Seth Rogen’s name listed in the cast of a film, the first thing that comes to my mind is a wild comedy. But in 50/50 Rogen adjusts his bizarre persona and creates a character that provides the right medicine to a poignant situation. Although the film gets a little sappy at times, it delivers a strong, meaningful story.
The film centers on Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a young guy how has been diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his back. His therapist Katherine (Anna Kendrick) tries to get Adam to accept his cancer and do his best to live out his dreams. His best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) goes into shock when he hears the news, but his strong sense of friendship takes over and wants to ‘be there’ for Adam. Never having been a womanizer, Adam finds himself doubting his ability to charm the ladies for a chance to have a fling while he still can. When Kyle’s sense of ‘being there’ becomes more bizarre, Adam takes a chance with fate and jumps right in with Kyle’s plan.
The actors chosen for the main characters, Gordon-Levitt and Rogen are perfect for their roles. They work well together, and the chemistry between them exudes a touching bond of friendship. I have to admit that even with Rogan’s reputation of dominating most of the scene’s he’s in, Gordon-Levitt overcomes this in 50/50 and pulls off the best acting performance of his career.
I liked the Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air) role of Katherine an upcoming therapist who gets assigned Adam as her third case ever. She adds an important comedic touch that gets the audience through some very emotional scenes. Also in support, Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor) does a sterling job as the dotting mother who falls apart when she hears her son has cancer. Trying to look strong for Adam, she just can’t make him believe it’s love she feels and not sympathy.
Direction by Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) is controlling and keen, taking his characters through the good and bad times and wrapping the film in Kleenex tissue. It’s a hard script to bring to the screen with comedy based on such a killer disease, but he presents it well and comes up a winner. If you have seen the Showtime cable TV show The Big C with Laura Linney, you will probably agree when I say 50/50 comes in equal to that show which treats cancer with laughter.
Caution, major plot point partially revealed: The inspiration for the movie came from the true experience of writer Will Riser, who in real life is friends with Seth Rogen. But although the story is based mostly on fiction, there are a lot of parts real to Riser. Actually Rogen’s character is an amalgam of himself and Evan Goldberg. Both writers for the Ali G Show, it’s where they met Riser. The three were close, and when they found out that Riser had cancer, they remained friends through most of the pain and suffering. When Riser pulled through, Rogen and Goldberg pushed Riser to write a script for 50/50.
50/50 is rated R for language throughout, sexual content, and some drug use. Be cautioned that some of the dialog may be truly tasteless if not taken in the manner that it was intended.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good comedy drama about love, friendship and accepting whatever may come.
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use
Running Time: 1hr 39 minutes
Opening Date: October 30, 2011
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment