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50/50

50/50

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
Genre: 
In Theatres: 
Sep 30, 2011
Grade:
A-
BOTTOM LINE:

50/50 boasts some incredible performances and becomes one of the best movies this year.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a fairly normal guy. He has a beautiful girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), a stable job at a radio station and the closest companionship with Kyle (Seth Rogen), a ladie's man with an incredibly goofy personality. Adam also is a man without certain things: He doesn't have a drivers license. He doesn't have a strong connection with his parents (Anjelica Houston and Serge Houde). He doesn't have much more time. Because Adam has just found out that he has cancer. 

How could this happen to Adam? He doesn't smoke, doesn't drink. He even recycles. This doesn't happen to people like him. Struggling to cope with this sudden realization, Adam begins to see his life unravel in front of his eyes. His girlfriend seems inconvenienced by his sudden diagnosis and can't be fully supportive. His mother isn't helping much either by constantly worrying and asking if he is okay. The only people who seem to understand Adam and his diagnosis are Kyle and Adam's new therapist, the freshly hired Katherine (Anna Kendrick). With his life slipping by the minute, Adam is only trying to do one thing: Cope. 

50/50 is a hell of a film. Rarely do we ever get a movie that packs as much heart and hilarity than what Director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) has captured here. Loosely based on his actual diagnosis, Writer Will Reiser finds a brand new way to bring humor to a devastating situation while never making light of it. It helps that Rogen, Will's real life friend during his diagnosis, is reprising the role of the best friend who is only trying to help. Rogen has never been better. Usually, we get to see him in full goof off mode with little direction. In 50/50, he portrays a guy who is still, by nature, goofy but uses it to help Adam realize that nothing has changed. He doesn't need a direction shift. The cancer has already done that. Rogen has the perfect blend of humor and heart that is extremely rare in comedies these days. Not to say 50/50 is a complete comedy. 

But Rogen isn't the key character here. Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Adam is something of true honesty. Gordon-Levitt's portrayl of Adam is shockingly refreshing and brutally honest. We watch Adam evolve from a care free 27 year-old to a man with no joy or emotion, just pain. Gordon-Levitt plays his role with such heart and honesty that you almost forget you're watching a re-enactment of a story on cancer. JGL will have you laughing hysterically one second and soaking your shirt with your own tears the next. He's nothing short of brilliant here and it shows throught the entirety of 50/50. 

The relationship between Adam and Kyle is the highlight of 50/50, but isn't the only source of joy. Anna Kendrick is the sunshine of this film and carries that torch throught the film. Her cheerful, yet blissfully unprepared nature of her career fits perfectly for Adam, who is also obviously unprepared for his recent situation. Levine did such a class act on capturing these performances, evoking the wide range of emotions from Adam's diagnosis to trying to get laid by bar girls, using his cancer as a source of pity to his mothers' acceptance of possibly losing her only child. These characters give us a reason to smile during the tragic nature of 50/50. It's criminal that Anjelica Houston won't be recognized for her role as Adams' mother, but the role is simply too small in runtime to warrant an Oscar contender. Now, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam is something that could get some serious recognition if 50/50 does well enough in the box office. None the less, 50/50 is never out of brilliant performances.

For some, 50/50 will be another comedy that happens to be about cancer. For others, it will be a heartbreaking story that finds its' way into our hearts and refuses to leave. To everyone, it will be the movie that opens eyes to the range of character for every actor involved, especially Rogen. Thanks to brilliant performances, excellent direction and some of the most inspired writing in theaters, 50/50 is easily one of the best films of the year. 

Ryan Sterritt
Review by Ryan Sterritt
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