Okay, I might as well just say it. 50/50 is the first actual film that can make you laugh and will most definitely make you cry. The performances are an honest and comedic portrayal of the human soul. While some may sympathize with cancer patients with tears and prayers, others like screenwriter Will Reiser and Seth Rogen chose to tackle the deadly disease with ingenious humor. And the result is pure bliss. 50/50 is a genuinely heartfelt comedy that works and is one of the best films of 2011.
There is a brilliance in 50/50’s simplicity. Basically the film is a comedic account of Reiser’s cancer diagnosis and struggle to overcome the disease.
From the moment the movie starts Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a very overly cautious person. His mannerism and gestures are a clear indication of that. He doesn’t jog across a red light, even though the intersections are clear. He doesn’t smoke or drink. He doesn’t even possess a driver’s license because he claims, “driving is the fifth leading cause of deaths.” And to top it all off, he recycles. So when he hears that he is diagnosed with cancer, he doesn’t seem to completely accept it. Everything is blurred and Adam doesn’t know what to do.
From there, we see Levitt’s true acting ability. He is able to display a wide range of emotions as he goes through the multiple and uncontrollable stages. Levitt’s performance is gripping, honest, and genuine and as he transitions from stage to stage he becomes more fantastic to watch. A gradual breakdown starts to occur and Adam’s emotion becomes more erratic as he starts to lose hope, but what he doesn’t realize is that everyone around him is trying to help in his or her own way.
50/50 is one of those rare movies where every character is a joy to watch on screen. Part of that reason is because the cast is able to draw out dark and light side of their characters. One prime example of that is Kyle (Seth Rogen), a brutally honest, foul-mouthed, drug user who uses Adam’s cancer as a sexual ice breaker, but as the film progresses you start to see that Kyle isn’t such a selfish person. The performace that Rogen gives is the guiding light for 50/50. Kyle literally takes every dark moment in 50/50 and makes it hilariously real, showing his disgust when he first hears about Adam’s cancer, but then trying to ease Adam’s pain with his own brand of humor which is an illicit mix of sex, drugs, and alcohol.
Kendrick shines once again as Dr. Katherine “Katie” McKay a hard-nosed textbook savvy therapist fresh out of school. She uses everything that she learned on Adam adding no personality to her psychoanalytic methods. Her social inexperience and naivety only makes for a much more lovable character. It is that lack of pop culture knowledge and inability to maintain a clean environment that drives Adam to teach her that the world isn’t as black and white as she might think it is.
Adam’s mother, played by Angelica Houston, makes the film even more real by trying to move into her son’s house. It may be funny at first when you think a mother is forcibly moving into her 27-year old’s son’s house. But it is only natural reaction for any mother, as they want to be there to protect their son. This makes the film feel honest, heartbreaking, and real.
50/50 is a perfect blend of poignancy and comedy that you could watch over and over again. The cast is perfect, the script is well written, and the performances are flawless. Fact of the matter is, you won’t ever regret watching 50/50