There should be nothing funny about cancer. But what about when you make a movie about it co-starring Seth Rogen? Well it's a little hard to avoid the comedy factor at that point. Then the challenge becomes achieving the right balance so that it doesn't come off like they're making cancer look like it's a laughing matter. That's one of the main reasons I wanted to see "50/50" was to see if and how they could accomplish that.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27-year-old who gets the unexpected news that he has cancer. He is determined to beat the disease with the help of his best friend Kyle (Rogen). The movie tells the story of how Adam struggles with that battle both physically and emotionally and how his friendship with Kyle transforms in the process.
Apparently this was inspired by a true story. Will Reiser wrote the script and loosely based it on his own experience with cancer. I would like to think that there are some people out there with that horrible disease that have friends as great as Rogen's character. Not everyone can take news like that and make sure that their friend stays in good spirits in spite of the pain and discomfort that chemotherapy would cause.
It was great how they jumped right into the bad news from the very beginning. I was wondering if they would want to take time to develop the character first before he was given the news that he had cancer. That way it would allow us to empathize more as we see what a nice guy he is making that moment of discovery a little harder to take. However, they do an excellent job of still showing that as we see how he deals with the disease.
Levitt is spot on as usual with his performance. The more I see this kid the more it's hard to remember that he got his claim to fame playing a goofy role on a sitcom. He takes roles like these and is able to bring dramatic depth to it. I personally think that it has a lot to do with his appearance. He still has a boyish look to him and knows how to manipulate that to where you get that puppy dog syndrome. Who wants to see a puppy get sick?
Rogen's part is extremely well-played as well. His brand of humor is actually perfect for the things that Adam is going through. How much would it suck while you're that sick to learn that your girlfriend isn't as good a girlfriend as you thought? That's the last thing someone battling cancer should have to contend with. Well fortunately Kyle handles the situation brilliantly for him in perhaps the funniest moment in the "50/50".
I still think they should have went another way with the ending. It left me a bit unfulfilled. (Spoiler alert) I honestly didn't expect him to die, but it would have made for a better ending if he did. Or at least if didn't bounce back so well. Then they could have avoided that trite Hollywood scenario of everyone living happily ever after. I thought movies were trying to get away from that anyway but it appears they didn't get the memo here.
"50/50" excels more than just because of the way the friendship is depicted between Adam and Kyle. It's also the other friendships Adam develops after discovering the cancer news. It provides the opportunity of other great performances out of some key supporting actors like Anna Kendrick as the psychiatrist and Phillip Baker Hall as a fellow cancer patient. The movie reveals that friendship is all forms can help in overcoming even a major obstacle like cancer. Afterall, isn't that what friends are for?
My rating: A -