October 1: 50/50

| October 1, 2011

50/50What happens when you put the stoner with the goofy laugh and the kid from “Third Rock from the Sun” in a comedy about cancer? You get one of the best movies of the year.

Currently sitting at above 90% on www.rottentomatoes.com , “50/50″ is a movie I was lucky enough to see a screening of on Monday thanks to www.gofobo.com – a site that provides people with free sneak peak passes to movies.

“50/50″ stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Third Rock from the Sun,” “Inception”) as Adam, a 27-year-old Seattle Public Radio programmer who is seemingly doing everything right in his life when he’s diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. Helping him through his battle is his best friend Kyle, played by the always funny and typecast stoner Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up,” “Pineapple Express”) who thinks it’s more important to get Adam laid using the cancer excuse instead of dealing with the issue head-on.

The fictional film is loosely based on screenwriter Will Reiser’s real life scare with cancer when he was only 24. Now cancer free, Reiser got together with his good friend and the film’s producer (Rogen) to tell the story.

After  constant back pain, Adam decides to go to the doctor for testing. The result as you  know is cancer. He handles it as I can only imagine that most other people would, with shock, telling the doctor that he can’t have cancer since he doesn’t smoke, drink and he even recycles. After the diagnosis, he does his research and finds out that his chances are 50/50, which when broken to Kyle, he’s assured that his chances are even better than any casino bet would be.

That night he breaks it to his new girlfriend, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (“The Village”) who assures him that she’s going to stay with him and that they will beat it together. His next step is breaking it to his over-protective mother, played by the brilliant Anjelica Houston (Just about every Wes Anderson film and over 70 others) and his Alzheimer’s-Stricken father who can’t even remember his own son’s name, played by Serge Houde (“The Kennedys”).

Adam’s next step in his journey is to start Chemotherapy. “50/50″ in no way takes cancer lightly, but does have things go a little easier for him when he begins the radiation treatment and gets to enjoy pot-macaroons baked by Phillip Baker Hall‘s character’s wife, which makes for a hilarious scene of Adam walking through the treatment facility’s hallway stoned out of his mind. After weeks of chemo, Adam finds out through Kyle that his girlfriend is cheating on with with a long-haired hippie. Adam promptly enters the next stage of grief, anger, and breaks it off and begins the next stage of his life.

Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50.

Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50.

While struggling with cancer, Adam starts seeing a therapist named Katherine, played by Anna Kendrick (“Up in the Air”). It turns out Katherine is a 24-year-old psychology student who seems to be just as new to this experience as he is, which makes for great on-screen chemistry between the pair.

I won’t go any further to prevent any possible spoilers such as whether he lives or dies or if Godzilla decides to strike and the film transforms into a hand-held shot “Cloverfield” style sci-fi adventure … which definitely doesn’t happen.

What I can say is this – I laughed, I cried, and I left feeling better about my own life – unlike the disaster that was “Funny People,” which also starred Rogen and dealt with cancer in a not-so-funny way. This has heart and character and shows how one person dealt with an end of life situation while balancing work, friendships, relationships and most importantly family without the heavy depressing feeling. He dealt with it in an unorthodox way, much like a dramatic comedy about “Back Cancer” (see the film to understand) deals with telling this uplifting story.

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Category: Rants, Raves and Interviews

About the Author (Author Profile)

Chris Humphreys

I read, I write, I watch stuff and most importantly I design and photograph for the Voice-Tribune full time. When I’m not doing those things then I’m probably eating something delicious or playing with my two cats. I live in Germantown and try to enjoy every day to the fullest.

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