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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: 50/50

Learning that you have a dangerous cancer and that your chances of survival are 50/50 when you are in your late 20s and you haven’t even been to Canada must be the most difficult news to cope with. But Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) takes it surprisingly well - at first. What seems to bother him more is the way his friends and family seem to handle it. Although he is told that his chances are 50/50, Adam would very much like to keep on living like he used to even if he knows he is going to die. Cancer however might have other plans.

When he learns about his disease Adam reaches out to friends and family for support. He gives his girlfriend, Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) an exit. She amicably refuses it, stating that she will help him through it. But it doesn’t take long before we realize she is not willing to take full responsibility over Adam. Ultimately, Adam finds much better support with his best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), who at first seems only to be using the disease as a way to get laid but ultimately rises to the occasion.

Finally Adam reaches out to his family, and he has a good reason to leave them till the end. His mother (Angelica Houston) is a bit overbearing; she certainly supports him, perhaps a bit too much. But would it kill her to give her son a hug? Furthermore she has to take care of a husband with Alzheimer’s at home.

Adam also meets a therapist, Katherine (Anna Kendrick); she happens to be a few years younger than him, just out of med-school, and behaving the way no therapist should. And joins a support group, where the youngest member is still twice his age at the very least.

All of this leaves Adam, alone in his house with cancer. But despite all this depressing cancer talk 50/50 is still a comedy. Not in the way it has been advertised, a Seth Rogan bro-mance about dudes, but a more mellow form of comedy. The one that is only recognizable as such because of its feel good ending.

I cannot say if this film accurately depicts the struggles of cancer patients; I wouldn’t even try to because, thankfully, I haven’t lived through that. But the film itself was written by Will Reiser, who was diagnosed with a spinal tumor, survived, is now in remission for life, and happens to be friends with Seth Rogen. So, I can see why the characters felt real, and their reactions logical. Perhaps exaggerated, and certainly sugarcoated. But it is still refreshing to see a movie where you understand most of the characters.

So, I do recommend this film. It is certainly well written, well acted, and best of all, likable.

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