Thursday, February 23, 2012

50/50 - DVD Review

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer.  Directed by Jonathan Levine.



I don't think anyone has ever attempted a serious comedy about cancer before, but Seth Rogen has, and it's great. And I like that it's another showcase for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who continues to prove himself as one of today's most interesting actors.

JGL plays Adam, a normal guy working a job he likes, wishing maybe his relationship with his girlfriend was better, but then one day he finds out he has cancer. And so down the unknown road he must go.

Everyone knows someone who's had cancer, someone who lived through it and someone who died from it, and the title comes from the survival odds of Adam's particular kind of rare spinal cancer. He and his friend Kyle (Rogen) have all the dark humorous moments that people have when flirting with death, and when the girlfriend leaves, Kyle figures having a buddy with cancer can serve as a chick magnet.

I liked all the different avenues explored and how they were played. Anna Kendrick plays Kathryn, a 24-year-old therapist working on her doctorate, and Adam is one of her first patients, so just as Adam is new at cancer, Kathryn is new at helping him through it, and I liked how you can see her mind accessing college-book answers whenever a new emotional wrinkle develops. I liked Bryce Dallas Howard as the girlfriend (can't remember the character's name right now). It could have been played as the stereotypical bad-girlfriend that our hero must inevitably part from, but she was given more emotional depth than normally allowed. And with what she's given to do, Anjelica Huston is really strong as Adam's worrying mother.

This movie always felt honest. It earns its laughs and it earns its touching moments.  In fact, I've updated my Top Ten of 2011 list over it.

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