Dr. Donna Copeland’s
young people to have access to those of their own age over such an extended treatment period.
That being said, the film did present a realistic picture of what patients experience at diagnosis and on into treatment and the reactions of friends and family to the news. The script was well written in this aspect, and skillfully alternated between serious/sad and funny/hopeful—which actually occurs during the cancer experience. Many talk about it as being a roller coaster ride.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam once again aces his character and is a pleasure to watch in showing subtleties of expression and emotional range. His covering his emotions at the start, and then gradually allowing them to surface across time is exactly right. I especially enjoyed the “I’m not angry!” morphing into a screaming fit in the car much later on. Seth Rogen is perfectly cast and finely executes the role of well-meaning friend who makes mistakes, but sticks by his bud over the long haul. Angelica Huston as Adam’s mom and Bryce Dallas Howard as the girlfriend who is found to be outside her element were both very strong in their roles. Anna Kendrick was good as an actress, but the script let her down.
Bottom line: A for the portrayal of cancer patients and their family and friends; F for the portrayal of medical and support staff.
JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT SETH ROGAN ANNA KENDRICK ANJELICA HUSTON BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD
This is Joseph Gordon Levitt’s second film beginning with the letter “5”. There are two Texas cities in the cast’s names, and both Oscar nominee Kendrick (Up in the Air) and Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help), play characters very similar to ones they have already played before. Based on the story of Rogan’s friend, 50/50 isn’t your typical cancer film. It goes out of it's way to draw in the younger crowd that might follow Rogan’s other stoner movies. The film suffers every moment Rogan and his stereotypical baggage is on screen. Levitt continues to shine and prove himself with every smart role and this one is no different. While James McAvoy was originally cast, Levitt was the right choice.
At 27 years old, Adam (Levitt) is diagnosed with a very rare type of spinal cancer that demands immediate chemo therapy. His lives with a cold and selfish girlfriend (Howard) who won’t even attend therapy with him, often leaving him waiting for hours after his treatment at the hospital. His co-worker and best friend Kyle is also selfish, using his buddy’s ailment to get laid and high. Adam’s mother (Huston) is busy with his sick father, but wants nothing more to care for him, and he pushes her away. Adam is quiet, gentle, and pretty upbeat for what he is going through; he finds an odd comfort in his 24 year old therapist (Kendrick), who is still working on her dissertation.
Levitt is the best reason to see this film; his performance as this isolated young guy (even though he has people around him) begs for the audience's sympathy. The chemistry Levitt and Kendrick have is fascinatingly awkward, not unlike his chemistry with Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer. One of my favorite scenes is when Adam goes OCD on his young doctor, demanding she stop the car so he can remove the trash from her car. The scenes with Levitt and Huston are also among the better parts of the film. Howard manages to play a character even more dislikable than her role as Hilly in The Help.
With all that is good about this film and done right, every single moment Seth Rogan is on camera causes the entire production to suffer. Only when his character is on screen (which is identical to every character he has ever played) do we get all the vulgarity, sex, and drugs that he is usually associated with. There is a scene that I wanted to clap at, when Adam finally screams at Kyle for being a terrible friend when he needs him the most. However, the script tries to pull some fast redemption when Adam finds a book in Kyle’s apartment titled “Getting Through Cancer Together”. For me that didn’t work. This film could have been great if Rogan hadn’t been involved; he is a bad actor, a distraction, and will cause many mature audiences to shy away from this film.
Final Thought – Everything is good except for Rogan who infects every scene he is in.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody
It was difficult to watch this film portray medical staff as so uncaring and inept. Although I am sure there are a few who resemble those in the movie, in cancer centers, especially, caregivers are sympathetic, understanding of the trauma the patient and family are experiencing, and spend a good deal of time educating them about the specific cancer and its treatment. Psychologists in cancer centers—even those in training—maintain appropriate boundaries and help the patients develop insight in a much more gentle way than is shown in the film. And it is highly unlikely that they would allow a personal relationship to develop with a patient. It really pains me to know how many people will watch this movie and think that is what they would encounter if they get cancer. The story is “semi-autobiographical” of Will Reiser’s experience, and if he encountered such bad medical personnel, chances are pretty high that he was not treated at a cancer center.
One advantage to being at a cancer center for treatment, particularly for adolescents and young adults, is that there are many more young people with whom to go through the experience. The two older gentlemen in the film were just great—and it certainly happens that different age groups are thrown together in the chemotherapy room—but we know that it is preferable for