Get out your...um...weed? Yes, we're just going to go with weed. We're reviewing 50/50!
I finally got a chance to check out 50/50. It's one of those rare films that can be difficult to watch, as it's both a comedy and a tragedy at the same time. The question on everyone's mind was if it would be a sincere look at the hardships of cancer or a crude comedy aimed at cheap laughs. Well, it's genuine, it's hilarious, and it's heartbreaking.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt *Squee!*) lives a fairly healthy life, running, working for radio with his buddy Kyle (Seth Rogen), and living with his artist girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), so he's more surprised than anyone when his doctor tells him he has cancer. Adam and Kyle try their best to make it through this horrible ordeal.
This was a genuine, heart-warming look at the troubles of cancer...and it was hilarious! No, wait, that's not what I meant! Look, it just does a great job of having a true, sad moment, then turning on a dime to bring you utter hilarity. There are some movies that just can't pull off a comitragedy, but this one definitely does. The humor is outrageously, laugh-out-loud funny, and the sad bits are gut-wrenching, tear-jerking agony. What's weird is that they both work together so perfectly. The humor makes the tragedy and vice versa.
Full disclosure: I am a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fan. I've loved him in everything since Brick, so to say I have a bias is an understatement. But, seriously, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has cancer in this movie. Just give him the Oscar, already. In the beginning, Adam is kind of a sap and you just want him to man up. You can really feel how sick he gets and how hard it is for him. He has some great parts, especially towards the end.
If you're not a Seth Rogen fan, then I feel sorry for you, because he is just at his most Rogeny, comedic best here. What's great is that he doesn't steal the show. He just acts the hell out of the silly best friend. He's silly and funny and just a nice slice of Seth Rogen. He frequently uses Adam's cancer to pick up chicks but tries to keep Adam in high spirits as much as possible. The dynamic between the two is lightning.
I loved Anjelica Huston as the mother and Bryce Howard as the bitchy girlfriend. I was really engaged with all these characters and invested in the story. I wasn't just waiting for the next set piece or trying to guess plot points. I was in my head going, "Gah, I hate that bitch! I hope he tells her off soon!" This is how you know it's a great story.
The only weird thing I noticed was Anna Kendrick's unnecessary cleavage (not that I'm complaining). It just feels like somewhere in the middle of shooting, someone stopped her and went, "Hmmm, is there any way we could film this to make your cleavage stick out more? Can we get more of a bird's-eye-view angle? Maybe open your shirt more and stick out your chest? This guy has cancer for Chrissakes!" It's just odd. But hey, there's also a half-naked Gordon-Levitt and Rogen, if you're into that sort of thing. And, what's that? Ah, yes, I do believe that's the sound of fan fiction now being written, you pervs.
What's also great is that it's not just Adam's cancer story; it's everyone's cancer story. You see what everyone has to go through and how hard it is for each of them: his friends, his parents, his coworkers, even his psychiatrist. Yes, it's obviously hardest for Adam, but it's just a terrible situation for everyone involved, and it feels like an honest look at what people go through. There are these ridiculous, funny moments where you think, "how could this possibly happen?", but know that somewhere, it is happening just like that.
The Good: Outrageously funny and tear-jerkingly sad work amazingly well together, as do Rogen and Gordon-Levitt.
The Bad: Only if you don't like Rogen's humor.
Overall: See it if you still can. You'll laugh and cry, and be the better for it. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has cancer, and you're thinking about not seeing his movie?
One scene metaphor: *SPOILERS* Throughout the movie, Kyle is always trying to use Adam's cancer to sleep with women, so you wonder about his intentions...that is, until the one night that Adam brings him home drunk. Adam goes into Kyle's bathroom to find a book titled "How to Deal", about helping a friend through cancer. Kyle has written in and dog-eared the book. *END SPOILERS*
That's the kind of movie this is. On the outside, it seems crude and you wonder what it's real intentions are; but then you open it up, and see how caring it really is.