Greg Says: It’s not The Hangover with Cancer – it’s more.
Title: 50/50 (2011)
Date: 10 October 2011
Recommendation: See it in theaters
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Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt – “Third Rock from the Sun”, “10 Things I hate about you”) works for a public radio station. His girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard – “The Help” & daughter to Ron Howard) is a self- absorbed abstract artist. When Adam is diagnosed with spinal cancer, she puts on a show of caring, but is otherwise distracted. Adam’s best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen – “Pinapple Express”, “Knocked Up”) takes a different view of his buddy’s situation – it’s babe candy.
Adam goes to neophyte psychologist Katherine (Anna Kendrick – “Twilight”, “Scott Pilgrim”) for counseling. She is awkward and inexperienced but earnest in her concern for Adam. Adam is also smothered by his doting mother (Anjelica Huston – “The Postman Always Rings Twice”) who is caring for his father (Serge Houde). The stage is set and we’re off The previews for this movie make it look like “The Hangover” but with cancer. But it is more. It’s a true-life-inspired story about a young man (Adam) who is facing life-threatening cancer. It’s approached with a sense of humor and sensitivity. We meet Adam, who is just getting started in life. He eats right, obeys all the rules (he doesn’t even cross against a street light despite there being no traffic), and still receives the devastating news that he could die from cancer. The irony is he never learned to drive because it is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States.
Adam is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a very straight manner. We learn that he is a very giving, even forgiving man. Perhaps too much so as he has become a doormat for all the women in his life.
His best friend, Kyle, is played by Seth Rogen who is the obvious comic relief. Kyle seems to be an odds maker and when he learns that Adam’s chances of Kyle can think of nothing more than getting laid and sees Adam’s cancer as a way of improving their odds.
Both actors bring an honesty to their roles that is palpable. The film is less about cancer and more about how people respond to responsibility. We see the girlfriend who just goes through the motions. The mother who (already overwhelmed with taking care of her Alzheimer’s husband) wants to move in. The best friend who relates to his buddy the only way he knows how – to get laid.
For a heartwarming story, told with sympathy and humor, I recommend you “see it in theaters.”