HomeMoviesReview: 50/50

Review: 50/50

daniel cohen looks at the new dramedy with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen …

Plot: A young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in his twenties is diagnosed with back caner and learns he has a 50/50 shot of surviving the disease. The story follows his relationships with his best friend (Seth Rogen), girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), mother (Anjelica Huston), and new therapist (Anna Kendrick), and how they all deal with his life threatening illness.

Just to be clear, 50/50 is not a spin-off movie involving the popular Batman villain Two-Face. 50/50 is in fact a dramedy about a young guy with cancer, and it seems like the film’s primary goal is to keep poking you with a stick until it makes you cry. While it didn’t quite have that effect on me, Levitt’s character Adam is such a simple/likable guy, that you are completely 100 percent engaged and with him in his struggle to beat the disease, and that’s why the film ultimately works. It doesn’t start out that way, however.

The first twenty minutes or so are kind of ‘whatever.’ You like Adam. He’s fine. But the movie lacked a certain ‘pop’ or energy to it. The writing was bland, and I just wasn’t invested in the story. Even when Adam is being told he has cancer, there was just something about the atmosphere of the film that didn’t really connect with me. Although the doctor that diagnosed him was a real dick. He just casually drops in the ‘cancer’ word to this poor guy. What an ass bag! Even when Adam is breaking the news to his friend, girlfriend, and then his mother, I still wasn’t really feeling the movie. I wanted to connect with it, but it just seemed like it was going through the motions, even with all these big emotional moments.

I don’t know when it happened, but the movie eventually kicks into high gear. The writing becomes sharper, and I got more invested in the characters. What really works in this film are all the different characters and their relationship to Adam. I’m not a big Seth Rogen fan, but this is probably the best I’ve ever seen him. He’s the same old Seth Rogen, but in the big moments, he delivers. One scene in particular is when he totally bashes Adam’s girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). It’s funny, but perfectly illustrates the type of friend Kyle (Rogen) is. The friendship between Kyle and Adam is the heart of the movie, and the chemistry between the actors sells it completely.

The other character I enjoyed was Katherine, the therapist played by Anna Kendrick. Both she and Adam have these character quirks about them that play in very cleverly throughout the film. Adam is very clean and kind of neurotic, while Katherine is messy and unkempt. They are great foils. Both are very good actors bouncing off great banter among one another.

The slight disconnect between Adam and his mother (Anjelica Huston) is perfectly written. I think everyone can identify with Adam’s reluctance to return his mother’s constant phone calls.

The acting is solid all around, but it’s Levitt who drives the ship. He was perfect for this role. Adam is clearly terrified of what’s happening, but it’s never shoved in your face. He’s just a good guy who’s calm, subdued, and agreeable, that when Levitt blows up later in the film, it really gets to you.

The movie is billed as a comedy, and there are solid chuckles all throughout. It never gets too funny though, which is the right tone for this type of subject matter, but there’s plenty of levity. Some of the best comedic moments stem from the relationship Adam develops with two other cancer patients (Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer). Those scenes hit you hard. Despite one great acting scene from each Levitt and Rogen, there weren’t any moments that blew me away. Although Adam’s first walk through the cancer ward to get his first chemotherapy treatment was pretty strong. Levitt expresses that ‘Oh crap … it’s real now’ feeling perfectly in his face.

Overall, I like this film quite a bit. The music choices are annoying, it takes a while to get going, it’s fairly predictable, but I like all the characters and performances. And yes, the last act gets pretty emotional and will have most reaching for the tissues.

Rating: 7 out of 10 (Good)

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

Most Recent

Stay Connected