Written by Will Reiser and directed by Jonathan Levine, “50/50” is a dramedy about a young man’s unexpected diagnosis of a rare kind of cancer and the journey he takes to deal with it.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an overachieving, yet unexceptional young man. He takes his job writing radio programs very seriously and tries to please his self-centered girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard).
Seth Rogen plays Adam’s best friend, Kyle, who only wants to get laid and hates Adam’s girlfriend. When Adam, a baffled cancer patient (he doesn’t drink or smoke, and he recycles!), breaks the news to Kyle, his first response is “I’m gonna throw up.”
The pace of the movie is on the slow side. Adam must process cryptic medical explanations of his condition, while also juggling relationships with his flaky girlfriend, over-protective mother and father who has Alzheimer’s disease.
Adam starts chemotherapy treatments, and befriends two insightful old men who sit with him during the four-hour treatments. In a goofy scene, they get him high off medicated cookies. They exchange morbid jokes about how chemo makes your balls shrink and the more syllables the name of your cancer has, the worse it is.
Throughout the movie, comedic moments like this are interspersed with melancholic ones where Adam reflects on his reality. He begins to understand that he could die at any time. The world seems to continue without him.
The movie is funny and dramatic, but not in ways viewers haven’t seen before. Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt don’t disappoint, but they also don’t surprise and delight. The jokes are new and the lines are different, but they don’t outdo themselves with profoundness or tone.
Though Seth Rogen delivers a few funny lines that did have me laughing, it never got to the point where my abs cramped or my eyes watered.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt pulled his weight, but still failed to give an above-and-beyond performance. There was a moment or two when I felt a lump in my throat, but for me, that’s not really a feat.
The movie deals with dark themes but doesn’t take them to an unpredictable level. If the envelope had been pushed a little more, the dramatic catharsis and comedic relief could have been more satisfying. It could have been far more emotionally provocative.
Overall, “50/50” merits about a seven out of ten in my book. It is funny and dramatic but only in a very mainstream way — only to a comfortable degree.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ana McIntosh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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