As a comedy about a guy with cancer, 50/50 treads a tricky line, but this thoughtful film manages to be both sensitive and very funny. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam Learner, a young man who finds out he has a malignant tumour along his spine, and as the title indicates, he has a 50/50 chance of survival.
Adam tries to stay positive and upbeat with the help of his friend Kyle (Seth Rogan), and Adam’s new therapist Katherine (Anna Kendrick). The film’s script was written by Will Reiser and it’s based on his own experience battling cancer.
50/50 proves that if done with the right amount of wit and sincerity, humour can be combined with serious topics. As soon as I saw the film was produced by Evan Goldberg I knew I was in good hands, in terms of the comedy side of things. And with the likes of Seth Rogan also, I knew I was in for a treat. Rogan delivers his usual audacious jokes, but this time with a touch of delicacy. He isn’t as outrageous as he is in other films and when considering the subject matter, you’d expect him to tone it down a bit anyway.
Seth Rogan and Joseph Gordon-Levitt share exceptional chemistry. You really do believe in their characters as best buddies and they’re a great to watch. I’ve always highly rated Gordon-Levitt as an actor and in 50/50, he provides a great performance, taking Adam on a whirlwind of emotions. After the initial shock of his diagnosis, he is relatively calm and unfazed by the whole situation, but as the film progresses he becomes increasingly frustrated but refuses to give up.
I found it very refreshing to see a film tackle a serious illness without being condescending and self-pitying. It’s an admirable change to what most of us are accustomed to. However, with all its comedy, the film doesn’t ignore the pain and reality of cancer. Ultimately, the film is funny when it wants to be and serious when it needs to be. The film expertly strikes the right balance between the two.
Although 50/50 mostly avoids melodrama and soap-opera type scenarios, the relationship between Adam and his inexperienced therapist is quite predictable. Their relationship starts to cross the boundaries between patient and doctor. Nevertheless, they share some very touching scenes together.
I highly recommend this film to not only fans of Seth Rogan, but to people who like comedies with challenging topics. 50/50 is executed with such care and delicacy, that it’s quite a rare type of comedy. The issue of cancer couldn’t have been better handled in 50/50. The film is really enjoyable and very easy to watch, with some strong performances all-around.
Quoted: “You’ll be fine. 50/50! If you were a casino game you’d have the best odds.”
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Anna Kendrick.
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
Run Time: 100 min