Saturday, October 1, 2011

50/50 Movie Review

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star in this dark comedy about cancer
Cancer movies used to have two specific roles in Hollywood--over-the-top comedies about a cancer patient who decides to do all those things he never got around to, or the melodramatic, heavy, depressing drama-tragedies where you come out of the theater wishing you hadn't woke up that morning. With 50/50, it seems that those niches have been broken, and thank God they were.

This realistic tragicomedy--a self-autobiography of sorts of screenwriter Will Reiser-- keeps the balance between both the funny and the sad quite admirably. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception) is impeccable as young Adam--who has been diagnosed with cancer and must cope with being saturated with the life-ravaging chemotherapy intended ultimately to slow his rapidly-growing disease. Adam is a soft-spoken, calm young man who is law-abiding, kind, and a perfectionist-- JGL eases into this role with charm and candor.

Joseph Gordon Levitt as Adam Lerner

Seth Rogen plays the partying, profane and comic relief friend (Kyle) that he exemplifies--but it seems that he shows far more emotion that usual in this than his earlier films (save Knocked Up, perhaps) It never occurred to me during the movie that these people were just acting, but rather their performances conveyed magnificently a man stricken by a deadly disease.

Other roles such as Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family) as Adam's overbearing mother and Anna Kendrick (Twilight) as his neurotic, psychiatrist-in-training therapist are fulfilled well. There is plenty of humor and entertaining situations as well as emotion-laden, tearjerker scenes. Never once did 50/50 not seem like it was unrealistic--JGL shows many emotions and perspectives of one facing his own mortality in the eye.
JGL and Seth Rogen (Kyle)

Overall, 50/50 is a stellar work to come out of Hollywood during this exceptionally good season for movies. There is probably not a better movie to spend your $10 on this weekend, nor for some time. As 50/50 is R-rated, I wouldn't suggest children. There is a sex scene, copious amounts of profanity, adult humor, drug use (medicinal marijuana), and depressing thematic content. None of these seem really forced but rather a natural depiction of what a man faced with death might consider. Expect to laugh a lot but also feel worry and at times, sadness. The movie soundtrack is pretty upbeat at times but also dramatic corresponding to the situation. Additionally, the Pearl Jam (excellent band!) song Yellow Ledbetter at the end gave 50/50 a great musical ending--the song reflects a sort of melancholy portrayed throughout the film.

50/50 gets a 4.75/5. Rated R.

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