Do me a favor and before you start reading this, open up the song “The Other Side of Mt. Heart Attack” by the band Liars. It’s a great song, yes it’s in the movie, but I keep listening to it and it’s actually helping me write this post.
This movie is great for all the right reasons. As someone who has been unfortunately close to cancer for almost my whole life, I have to say that I was skeptical to see a comedy about it. But after some thinking I realized that people with cancer need all the “look on the bright side” they can get, and “50/50” delivers. I’ve been a huge JGL fan since I saw him in “Angels in the Outfield” back in ’94 so naturally I wanted to see this. The premise is that a young, healthy writer at an NPR-esque radio station finds out that he’s diagnosed with a form of back cancer. The story follows Adam as he deals with his cancer, his relationships between his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), his kind of girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), his therapist (Anna Kendrick), and his mother (Anjelica Huston). There are both funny and sad moments but an overall uplifting tone, which in my opinion is the best way to look at cancer: smile and laugh in it’s face.
I feel as if “simple” movies often get tossed to the side, that stories like this lose the attention of a majority of today’s film watchers. However if you throw some Bay on it, everyone will go see it you’ll be hard pressed to find a three year old who hasn’t heard of it before. I’m very glad this came across my queue as it is definitely needed; not only for those suffering from cancer but also for those dealing with it. During the film I felt like the movie was trying to push the aspect that “Having cancer doesn’t have to be as depressing as you think it does, look at this guy”, which is a fine story in itself but I think the tone I got out of it was the friendship between two people and dealing with the disease together. This is interesting because in all fairness Seth Rogen is only a supporting character and definitely doesn’t steal the show from JGL. After the movie was over I read the trivia on IMDB and it turns out that it was based on a script written by Will Reiser, a close friend of Seth Rogen’s who actually was diagnosed with cancer in his early 20’s. During that time Rogen convinced Reiser to write a script about it, and here we are with the finished product. But anyway, back to the movie review.
The acting is fantastic. Seth Rogen’s character is pretty much the same guy from “Knocked Up” which I honestly didn’t care for, but he makes it work here. In the film when JGL tells him he has cancer, Kyle’s (Rogen) response is essentially, “Alright, well let’s do this. You aren’t facing this sucker alone.” And that’s exactly the performance he delivers, with touching humor and sprinkled with a close friendship. Anjelica Huston, who should be handed an Oscar nomination every time she’s in a film, plays Adam’s overbearing mother. For any of you who have ever had one of these, she plays it to a T. Bryce Dallas Howard is Adam’s lady friend who seems to have her own agenda, and you’ll find that the first time you meet her you won’t like her very much. This is fine because she meets your expectations, don’t worry. Lastly we have Anna Kendrick. I haven’t seen her in much besides “Scott Pilgrim” and “Up in the Air”, both great films, but I was blown away by her performance here. She already looks like she’s about 20, so playing a 24 year old therapist-in-training is a perfect fit. Her chemistry with JGL is outstanding, and I found myself constantly waiting for the “moment” between them. As I mentioned above I feel that this film is more about the people who help you through the hard times of your life, rather than what you do with them on your own. See this with a smile.
DIRECTOR’S CUT: If you’re going to watch this with a friend, as soon as it’s over turn to them and hug them. And if you’re not in an office setting then a casual butt slap is ok.
FLICKCHART RATING: 95/1869
For those who have no idea what Flickchart is, it’s a website designed to rank the movies you’ve seen by means of a voting system. Whenever you see a new movie you just login, find the movie, and after a few simple pairings (ex. “Inception” vs. “The Brave Little Toaster”) your movie is given a rank. Over time this rank changes as you add more movies or decide that some are better than others despite their previous ranks. From now on I’ll add the ranking of the movie on my list so that you can get an idea of where it sits in my collection. And yes, I’ve seen a crap ton of movies.