Sunday, December 11, 2011


Year: 2011
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Angelica Huston

Plot: A young man discovers he has a rare form of cancer. With the help of his best friend and a rookie therapist, he attempts to survive it and deal with the emotional baggage that comes with it.

Review: To most people, cancer is a bad word, and even a death sentence. Someone close to me has it, so I know very well how it feels to have that weighing over your head if you're suffering from it. That said, I didn't think it was possible to make a comedy out of it, and I initially wanted to stay away from this film.

But guess what, 50/50 turned out to be a pleasant surprise. What's surprising also is the fact that this film is directed by Jonathan Levine, the same guy who helmed All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, which I thought was horrible.

The film is written by Will Reiser, a friend of Seth Rogen who had cancer and survived it. As far as the story goes, it's pretty realistic. The fear of the disease, the emotional wreck that one becomes when they realise they have it, the reactions of the people around you, the stuff the patient goes through, all come off very authentically here. I have to give credit to Levine for pacing the film quite well and ensuring that every character on screen feels real and relatable.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a good job of being the regular guy who wakes up one day and realises his life just changed for the worst. He also shows his fear and eventual courage to face the cancer. It'll be easy for the audience to sympathise with him and root for him too. Rogen is spot on as the best friend who although uses his friend's condition to score chicks and one night stands, isn't really as bad as some people make him out to be. Anna Kendrick once again brings her dorky charm she displayed in Up In The Air here as the therapist who helps Joseph deal with his disease. She is obviously inexperienced but is a very good listener who genuinely cares about her client. Kendrick comes off as very likeable here.

Bryce Dallas Howard plays Joseph's girlfriend who can't quite deal with the situation, and I wished her character was written better, as the way her story plays out was a tad too simple. Howard is good, but her character needs more depth. Angelica Huston shines in the limited screentime she has here as Joseph's mother, who worries about him constantly. Special mention must be made for Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as two fellow patients who sit in the chemotherapy room with Joseph. They're funny and believable.

All I can say is that 50/50 is a great dramedy about a subject matter that most people would consider as taboo. Thanks to Gordon-Levitt and the hilarious Rogen, this film is a solid watch. (3.5/5)

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