I was looking forward to seeing this film because I really like Joseph Gordon Levitt and I had heard it was based on a true story. Both of these things came together well in what is a really good film. Still hung over from the abuse I took from Green Hornet, my Seth Rogen annoyance level was humming.
I was looking forward to seeing this film because I really like Joseph Gordon Levitt and I had heard it was based on a true story. Both of these things came together well in what is a really good film. Still hung over from the abuse I took from Green Hornet, my Seth Rogen annoyance level was humming. So in one of the early scenes where Seth is doing some standard gross-out “jokes” I was feeling like maybe I would need to hang myself with some green tights. But then the film picks up. And goes to some complex emotional places that were handled very nicely. Levitt is great as the lead and I really like everything he does. Like Brick is a really good film and so is 500 Days of Summer. This is the next level for this guy, shaved head and all.
It is the story of a 27 year old guy who is diagnosed with cancer. The kind that has a 50% chance of survival, hence the title. Upon hearing the news Levitt is numb to it and tries to go on about his life. This is clearly not working and we are shown how serious it is by the reaction from his best friend, played by Rogen. Aside from the standard shock value frat-house jokes that has become a staple of modern comedies, the rest of Levitt’s and Rogen’s relationship is heartfelt. I was so glad that there was only the one scene in the beginning that was annoying. The remainder of the film showed how great a loyal, but knuckle head friend can be. Loud mouth idiot but would take a bullet for his boy. It was very obvious that this was based on the real relationship between Rogen and friend Will Reiser, who wrote the script. Only two people who actually went through it could have created such an accurate depiction of two guys dealing with something this heavy.
On the surface some of the supporting cast comes across as two dimensional. But this is more of a statement as to how regular people react to something like this. Yes, the doctor is going to be a little cold. They have to or they can’t do their job. Because Rogen and Reiser actually went through it, there is authenticity throughout. Even when selfish girlfriend, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, reacts predictably it is fine because she is a good actress and that’s how good looking self-absorbed people typically respond. Like when my beautiful college girlfriend cheated on me with some guitar playing dildo. And just when I was feeling like Levitt’s mom was a caricature, Anjelica Huston gives us some powerful depth. I felt like she was reacting the way many moms would. Trying to hard, but full of love.
It is the flaws of all the characters that give this film its charm. Like the relationship Levitt has with Anna Kendrick, his therapist. She is in training and tries to lay down some text-book jargon to help, which fails. Levitt’s reaction to this naive attempt is funny and real. The three main people for Levitt’s support system are all making mistakes. It is messy because seeing someone you care about fight cancer is not easy! And the person who is fighting it is more scared and confused that anyone. I loved this film because, like some other cancer films, there was no perfect angel who came in to save the day. Or showing the person with cancer as this noble saint that gives us all wonderful lessons about how precious life is. 50/50 had none of this. Just regular people trying to deal with a really tough situation. This is the humanity of this film. And why I cried a lot while watching it in a theater in a ski town during shoulder season. Levitt has a great scene in Kendrick’s office where he let’s loose his anger and frustration about being sick. Not, “oh I’m going to cherish every sunset”. Just scared and pissed off. Also, Phillip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer are hilarious as Levitt’s new-found chemo pals.
I’m glad all these actors are working and I hope they continue to make good films like this. Because Seth Rogen is a funny guy that should never play a super hero ever again. It’s like when Don Johnson released an album or Magic Johnson hosted a late night talk show. Seriously what is wrong with the Johnson’s? Does this mean LBJ’s ghost is going to come back and make a rap video? I mean I give anyone credit for trying to do something outside their comfort zone, but maybe do it as a hobby. I don’t ever want to see Chris Rock play in the NBA. Ok, I’ve got to let go and forgive Rogen for Green Hornet (even though I spent $16.50 for that 3D piece of shit and he needs to pay me back). He is a funny guy and this film showed some depth. Because of it’s real honesty, 50/50 could maybe give some insight into how to try and handle a really tough draw. I know it did for me. I look forward to seeing this movie again when I’m on a plane somewhere. I think it may be like one of those movies that I’ll stop and watch whenever I’m flipping around on the tele (said in a bad accent). Watch this film and be ready to cry and PALM STRIKE the Green Hornet sequel.