Movie Review: 50/50

Details from IMDB:

R  100 min  -  Comedy | Drama   -  30 September 2011 (Canada)

Ratings: 8.3/10 from 3,496 users   Metascore: 72/100
Reviews: 47 user | 92 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

Inspired by a true story, a comedy centered on a 27-year-old guy who learns of his cancer diagnosis, and his subsequent struggle to beat the disease.

Initial thoughts:

I thought this was an offbeat comedy but really it’s a very serious drama almost the whole time. Seth Rogen seems to end up in these kinds of movie (like Funny People for example). After about 15 minutes into the movie though you see this is very serious as Adam (played incredibly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is soon diagnosed with cancer.

Main points:

I think anyone who has had a relative or close friend deal with cancer needs to see this film. It is an honest portrayal of a horrible disease that strikes people of every age and every walk of life. Before I get into my feelings on this film I need to point out that while Seth’s character Kyle is obviously meant to be the comic relief here for me he was the main detractor in the film. Rogen always seems to play the same character in any movie he does and I find it tiresome. He has this weird funny/endearing/sympathetic/raunchy vibe that doesn’t always suit the movie he is in. While this is a much better than Funny People, the Kyle character somehow seems more out of place.

With that out of the way I’ll talk about all the good. You really feel for Adam, he is  nice guy who cares about his girlfriend, the environment, culture and his health. He reminded me a little of myself with his paranoia about avoiding things which could be unhealthy and taking precautions that the average person doesn’t (such as refusing to drive since it is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. and waiting for a crosswalk sign to change when no cars are around). He also eats healthy, doesn’t smoke or drink and tragically gets cancer. As if all that wasn’t bad enough his father has alzheimer’s, his relationship with his mother (played by Angelica Huston, who is excellent in every scene) is poor and his girlfriend cheats on him after she learns he has cancer.

Adam also goes to see a psychologist, Katherine, played by Anna Kendrick. Kendrick is very good and portrays a young, slightly bumbling but sweet and kind-hearted doctor-in-training to a T. I’ve always liked her and she continues to impress in this film. Their relationship gets more personal and less professional as the film goes on and it becomes important when she gives him her number.

SPOILER ALERT!

Adam goes through chemo and it is heartbreaking when we learn that the tumour hasn’t shrunk at all. The doctor tells him that he must undergo a dangerous surgery as this is the only option he has left.

He tries to be strong and even begins to accept that he will die. Ultimately though he realizes that there are so many things he hasn’t experienced and his breakdown in heartbreaking to watch as the surgery is just hours away. It is Katherine he calls to help him deal with the surgery and it is no surprise when she turns up at the hospital.

Once again I found the emotion Gordon-Levitt displays before the surgery to be so honest and sad that I will admit to be deeply affected by this movie several times.

I didn’t realize that this movie was based on a true story and I did not know that Adam would live. I am certainly glad he did though as that would have been the ending almost too much to bear. The only other tiny complaint was that when he has a date at the end I knew right away that it was Katherine. I have doubts about how many people get to date their therapist/psychologist after they are cure but it is still a nice scene and really doesn’t detract much from the ending.

Adam beats the odds (which were, of course, 50/50 as the title suggests) but it clearly shows that many do not as one of the people he meets during chemo treatments is simply gone one day.

Conclusion:

I give this movie a strong 8/10. I haven’t been this strongly moved by a film in years. All the acting is excellent (save Rogen who is just the same) and it’s a great story. I can always tell when a movie is well done as I just sit there at the end and watch the credits for a while, not waiting for a surprise at the end, just letting the impact of what I just saw seep in. If you can handle some sad/emotional moments you owe it to yourself to see this film, I’m very glad I did.

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