Directed by Jonathan Levine
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard
“50/50” has been billed as a cancer comedy, but comedy is a bit of a misnomer. Jokes are made, laughs are had, but the movie really defies genre.
What makes “50/50” so refreshing is that it never hits you over the head with the sort of elegiac writing you associate with movies about people who have cancer.
Instead, it tries something new — and mostly succeeds, in part because it’s based on the personal experience of writer Will Reiser, himself a cancer survivor.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam, a perfectly healthy 27-year-old who one day learns he has a tumor on his spine. As he copes with his 50/50 chance of survival, he’s supported by his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) and his young newbie therapist (Anna Kendrick). He also has a girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), but her empathy skills are questionable.
Director Jonathan Levine, along with the cast, strikes a perfect balance between humor and seriousness. The writing never gets too sentimental, even when Adam breaks the bad news to his mom or goes to his chemo treatments. Yet it’s also never flippant, even when Kyle tries to exploit Adam’s illness to get girls. It all feels sincere, and the humor emerges organically.
“50/50” won’t necessarily bowl you over, but it will charm you and move you with its sensitive observations about a young man battling cancer.