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Archive for the ‘50/50’ Category

50/50- review


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This is the time of year when there are just too many films to watch.  Everyone is trying to squeeze in their pictures in for consideration by the Academy, and it’s just not possible to see every film you want to….but believe me I really try.  A film like 50/50 would normally slip right through the cracks, and maybe I’d catch it on DVD a few months later.  I happened upon the film by accident really when some friends and I decided to go to the “Brew N’ View” here in Chicago.  If you do not know what that is, it’s basically a music venue, “The Vic”, that is turned in to a movie theater where people drink a ton of beer, eat popcorn, and chat with their friends. (I would be against the chatter normally, but no one really cares in this setting).  That’s why it’s so interesting that during 50/50, the second feature and four or five beers in, everyone was dead silent for the entire movie.  That is a testament to how riveting and compelling the film actually is.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has become one of my favorite actors in the past few years, stars as Adam, a twenty-something audio engineer who works at a radio station.  His life includes his girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas-Howard), his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), and his mother Diane (Anjelica Houston).  He is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that gives his life expectancy a 50/50 shot, and the film explores how a young man of that age must deal with the cancer, and how the members he loves interact with him during that time period.

At first glance 50/50 is just a straight forward raunchy comedy, especially with Seth Rogen’s loud mouth spitting out his perverse lexicon.  Gordon-Levitt however steals the show, and adds a lot of depth and care to a character whos story is really heart-breaking.  This lets Rogen sit right where he should in the film, as a supporting cast member, Kyle.  Kyle tries to help Adam forget about the cancer.  He gets him drunk, and spies on his girlfriend who he believes isn’t being straight with Adam.  Kyle is just a dumb kid trying to downplay the severity of Adam’s situation.  He tries to get Adam to play up the cancer role because he’ll easily get laid that way.  Anjelica Houston is also great as Diane, Adam’s mother.  She worries endlessly and plays up the cancer in her own sorrowful way, yelling at Doctor’s, and whoever she can…”Can’t you see my son has cancer!”

While Adam goes through chemo he meets some older gentleman who are also going through treatment. These guys are a trip.  They smoke medicinal marijuana all day, and become good friends with Adam. They help each other cope, and will play an important role in how Adam comes to understand his disease.  Adam also has to see a therapist a few times a week.  His psychologist, Katie (Anna Kendrick, Up In the Air) is a 24 year old psychologist in training, and Adam is only her third patient.  She attempts to help Adam through the process, doing everything by the book and exactly how she was probably taught to handle these situations.  She’s young though, and at times you can see that she’s learning more from Adam, then he is from her.

50/50 is one of those movies that just sneaks up on you, and it was a pleasure to catch it.  It works so well at understanding a young man going through a life-threatening illness.  It’s extremely funny, but it’s also very poignant.  It does a hell of a job of intertwining small moments that have a greater meaning to Adam’s life, and life in general.

Grade:  A-