50/50 adds a layer of comedy to a very serious topic: cancer. The script is written by Will Reiser and is based on his own personal experience. While there are moments that will make you tear up, there are also moments that will make your stomach hurt with laughter. It’s an impressive balance.
50/50 tells the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27 year old who works at SPR (Seattle Public Radio) and has a pretty attractive lady on his arm, Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard). Seems everything is going pretty well for Adam. However, his life is upended when he is diagnosed with a rare and malignant tumor. He has cancer, and he doesn’t understand how. He’s a healthy guy. How can he be sick?
The film focuses on Adam’s coping with the news just as much as it focuses on his relationship with his friends and family and how they cope with it. His mother (Anjelica Huston) is a typical mom, cares deeply but tends to smother Adam with her worrying. His girlfriend Rachel is a self-absorbed artist whose only good act is getting Adam an adorable retired greyhound named Skeletor. Kyle, Adam’s best friend, seems obsessed with getting laid, but is always there for the big moments supplying as much support as he can. Then lastly, there’s Adam’s psychologist-in-training, Katherine (Anna Kendrick). Katherine quickly becomes more than just a psychologist to Adam, she becomes a good friend with the potential to be more.
The cast gives flawless performances, but none stand out as much as Joseph Gordon-Levitt does. Gordon-Levitt continues to impress me more and more with each role he takes on. I particularly enjoy him in films like this and 500 Days of Summer. These films tell a wonderful story with the perfect blend of drama and humor while Gordon-Levitt shines in illuminating the script. There’s a relatable quality that he brings to all his roles that makes you instantly like him and root for him, perhaps because we can see part of ourselves in him.
The pairing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen was also brilliant. Sometimes Rogen can overpower a role, but with this pairing he resides perfectly and brings a believable deeper side to his character that is subtle yet easy to appreciate.
As far as the script, Will Reiser did a fantastic job at tackling an emotionally challenging subject and adding sprinkles of humor which ultimately enriches the film and sets it apart from most movies with a similar story. Not many films about serious illnesses can avoid the sappy and depressing moments that are so cliche, but 50/50 does. It’s a comedy that can still elicit emotion and even a few tears. It seems real, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. It is 50% serious, 50% funny, and 100% good. A perfect mixture for a nearly perfect film.
Review By: Emma Loggins