Ah, finally. After guessing for four weeks whether or not each new movie will be worth watching, I can speak honestly and directly about one I’ve already seen. 50/50 is a warmly hilarious look at a young man diagnosed with cancer, and it may end up being the Little Miss Sunshine of 2011. Based on screenwriter Will Reiser and co-star Seth Rogen’s friendship during Reiser’s treatment for spinal cancer, director Jonathan Levine manages to craft a picture with equal doses of humor and heart.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam, an editor for Seattle public radio who’s taken aback when a doctor’s appointment for back pain takes the worst possible turn. Rogen is his friend and co-worker, Kyle, who helps him deal with the news in what at first feels like a roundabout if not slightly ignorant manner—the duo looks to score chicks and get high. Adam, a careful, safe man up to this point in his life, is hesitant to both at the onset and never fully embraces either lifestyle, but Kyle is there every step of the way pushing him in the direction he feels is best.
Their friendship is both easy and impossibly hard—they prefer to act like nothing has changed, but certain discussions and moments force them to realize both of their lives may soon be altered irreversibly and forever. Rogen, who isn’t exactly drawn out of his shell here, and Gordon-Levitt manage to depict each subtle aspect beautifully.
The movie obviously has its fair share of dark moments, yet the characters’ positivity and honesty strikes you the most. The film earns its R rating with candid conversations, frank language, and drug use, but this is far from a stoner flick or even a straightforward comedy. 50/50 is hard to confine to a genre because it intentionally breaks the rules set forth by its subject matter. We’re not supposed to laugh at a cancer patient, but we do repeatedly and with gusto. It’s the opposite of Philadelphia, but arguably a better, more relatable final product. Get ready for the red carpet, fellas. At the very least, if all the other movies I predict to be great turn out less than grand, this cannot disappoint. It will save September, if need be.
Oh, and if you’ll indulge one more speculation, I’m willing to go out on a limb for Jim Sheridan. The man who has brought us incredibly touching films like My Left Foot and In America is back this week with the horror flick Dream House. It will undoubtedly get the most buzz from its recently wed costars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, but it’s Sheridan’s deft hand behind the camera that should make it memorable.