Laughing at Cancer: 50/50 Review

A comedy about Cancer? Who in their right mind would think about making a comedy based off of that? Oh, that’s right, Seth Rogen would. 50/50, a film produced by Rogen, is the funniest tearjerker you will see all year. It will constantly make you laugh out loud and it will make you cry like a little school girl. The film centers on Adam, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, your average Joe who is living his life just like everyone else. He has a girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), a best friend (Seth Rogen), and a mother who gets on his nerves 24/7, (played by an exceptional Angelica Huston).   All is well until he gets the dreadful news that he has been diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, totally changing his life.  The film, written by Will Reiser, is a comedic look at the way people deal with the saddest of news. Will Reiser, who at the age of 24 was diagnosed with cancer, based the screenplay on his years as a patient.  And from the genuine pain you feel while watching, you can see that he put his heart and soul into the project.  Reiser’s script carefully balances comic moments (mostly supplied by the hilarious Seth Rogen), and moments that will leave audiences in a state of emotional despair. He essentially designs the films to showcase that even the most devastating of life’s hardships don’t have to make living impossible.

Joseph Gordon Levitt, a rising star who recently starred in (500) Days of Summer and Inception, plays his role with such honesty and charisma it’ll stun you how good he is. His sensitive, genuine personality makes it easy for us to like his character from the get-go. His gradual transformation from handsome, healthy-looking young man to a physically decrepit patient is shocking and fascinating. This transformation worked because of the delectable acting from Gordon Levitt. A scene that I thought really showed the heights Levitt achieved is a scene in which he discusses his mortality with Anna Kendrick’s character, telling her he knows that it is just a matter of time before he dies. Just the way Levitt positions himself and sadly states the obvious really got to me emotionally. I was invested in this character throughout the film and when he says something so devastating, I really felt for him. His emotional stagger as he calmly says that death is near is one of Levitt’s finest moments in the film. He really achieves new heights in this role and I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear his name a lot more during award season.

Rogen is up to the same old shtick of being the lovable, yet offensive, best friend, but I loved every moment he was in. His style of R-rated raunchy material is perfect for this character and it balances out nicely with Gordon Levitt’s straight-laced quality. Levitt’s and Rogen’s chemistry is what really makes this relationship believable. Without this balance I feel the film would fall flat, either as a straight up Apatowesque comedy or a sterile dramatic look at a cancer patient. Let’s just say, thank goodness it worked!!

The rest of the supporting cast does a fantastic job of filling out their roles. Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Adam’s girlfriend, is essentially a cold-hearted bitch. I won’t ruin some of the surprises in the film but let’s just say, she does some pretty horrible things to Adam.  Her demeanor works for what is essentially a character that audiences will ultimately hate. Angelica Huston is excellent as the typically overprotective mother that won’t leave her son alone. Huston knocks it out of the park, making it one of the best performances in her career.  The moment Adam’s mother deals with learning the news in a dinner scene with Levitt and Howard shows Ms. Huston at her best.  Just the way she approaches her son about it, ranting that she is moving into his place and taking care of him, is heartbreaking and funny, like the rest of the film.  She rants about how she is moving into his place and taking care of him. It’s moments like these that really allow Huston’s comedic sensibility and dramatic gifts to shine.  Anna Kendrick, of Twilight fame, plays Adam’s psychiatrist who has a little crush on him. Her chemistry with Levitt also convinces;  the connection between them feels legitimately heartwarming.

   All in all, this movie impressed me enough to say that is one of my favorites of the year. 50/50 takes a serious subject but makes it incredibly funny. It will leave everyone either crying their eyes out from laughter or from the distraught pain the characters go through. GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!!!! Don’t just read about it, GO!!!!!!


One response to “Laughing at Cancer: 50/50 Review

  1. 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. I hope this at least some Oscar nods, but it doesn’t seem like it will actually happen.

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