|Gordon-Levitt, confessing his need for genital humor in cancer movies|
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an overly serious radio journalist in his late twenties. He has a rude goofball for a best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), and a girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is a pretentious professional artist with questionable talent. When Adam learns that he has a very rare form of cancer (which WebMD claims has a 50% survival rate), his life obviously begins to change. He thought he was happy before cancer, but the emotional journey quickly takes a toll.
|On the bright side, he gained a nice hat collection|
Not surprisingly, the bulk of 50/50's dramatic weight rests on the shoulders of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Thankfully, his character isn't asked to explicitly go through the stages of grief by the script, so JGL is able to surprise the audience.
|Surprise! Adam can throw Liu Kang fireballs!|
|Rogen's sad face looks like Rocky after a fight|
The direction in 50/50 is not particularly striking, but I thought it was well-handled by Jonathan Levine. There were only a few moments where his direction was truly felt --- the soft-focus/audio feedback when Adam was diagnosed was the most noticeable --- but I thought those moments were pretty effective. The rest of the film relies on Levine to balance some pretty soul-searing emotional tragedy with jokes about getting laid. It's a difficult task, but he pulls it off.
|Actual line: "I look like Voldemort"|
50/50 doesn't bring a whole lot of novel ideas to the cancer movie sub-genre, but that's okay. Since the path of a cancer patient is fairly predictable, that means that large chunks of the medical part of this movie are familiar. That may be a good thing; I think the filmmakers assume the audience has at least a passing familiarity with the disease, which allows them to more or less bypass the doctor-speak and focus on the emotional repercussions. Even though some parts of 50/50 were handled with beautiful understatement, this is still an emotionally wrenching movie. In other words, this probably isn't a good date night flick.
|...unless you want the evening to end like this|