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It's probably safe to say that Cancer isn't exactly the most prime of choices for comedy and judging by how noticeably empty the theatre was when I orginally saw this film, it seemed that a lot of people seem to have come to the same conclusion. Still with a script by Will Reiser who himself battled and won his own fight against "The Big C" he has here crafted a fantastic script based on these experiences which certainly doesn't tread on eggshells around such delicate subject matter.
Drawing from his own experiences he bring us the tale of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a Seattle based radio researcher, whose sole problems seem to be a lack of sex with his Artist girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), getting to work on time and what seems like some minor back problems. It is soon the latter which throws his world into turmoil as he discovers that it is being caused by a malignant neurofibroma-sarcoma schwannoma (try saying that after a couple of drinks) a rare form of cancer with a survival rate of which the film draws its title.
Still Adam doesn't have to fight this battle on his own, as he finds support from his long term friend and full term slacker Kyle (Seth Rogan), who also frequently uses Adam's conditions, to their.....well mainly his own sexual advantage to pick up girls, while also receiving support from trainee councillor Kate (Anna Kendrick) and for whom he is only her third patient and from whose sessions an unlikely friendship begins.
Following Adam throughout his battle, he maintains a largely positive front despite soon discovering that his girlfriend is dealing with things slightly less well, clearly having signed on to be his girlfriend and not his nurse, while still feeling the pressure to stand by her man yet she refuses to attend his treatments allowing her own personal dislike of hospitals to take precedence and generally struggling to deal with the situation, leading to best friend Kyle proving to be the unlikely pillar of support even as Adam's situation grows increasingly grim, with Rogan clearly drawing from his own experiences as the best friend of Will Resier you have a real sense that the role was written specifically for him to play, especially when so many of their shared experiences make reappearances here and while Rogan might be pulling out the same stoner chic, which he has carved a living from over the last few years made his calling card, here it more of a throwback to "Knocked Up" as he tones down his usual frantic energy to allow the natural humour to shine through.
The humour throughout never feels forced outside of the occasional outrageous one liners which are unsurprisingly given to Rogan, yet at the same time it feels wrong to mark this as a comedy, for humour is shown frequently here as shown more as a coping method of handling the situation, than anything resembling cheap laughs from which is essentially an extremely grim subject and it's a black veined humour which runs throughout this film, which such memorable quips including "The more syllables it has, the worse it is" as joked by prostate cancer patient Mitch (Matt Frewer) during a post chemo chat over hash macaroons a man who is almost like the living representation of acceptance, the fifth and final step on the "five stages of grief", the stages of which Kate struggles to guide Adam through as she battles her own confidence issues, having still not earned her doctorate and not having the experience to provide all the answers with Kendrick herself describing this character as "the worst therapist in the world".
With Kate and Kyle providing Adam with his main support Adam also finds himself receiving slightly less wanted support from his mother Diane played here by the always fantastic Anjelica Huston, who again makes such a small role still memorable, as she is already caring for her Alzheimer's stricken husband yet still is insistent on dropping everything to move in and care for her son as well, while Adam's attempts to subtly break it to her about his diagnosis by opening with the questionable "Have you ever seen Terms of Endearment?" easily being one of my favourite moments of the film.
Levine has assembled a great cast with Gordon-Levitt once again pulling off another memorable lead performance, while maintaining his indie charms despite recently making more mainstream movies as his profile has risen in the last few years and receives great support from the rest of the cast, who are all equally believable in their roles so that you actually care for these characters, especially during some of the darker moments and Levine effortlessly manages to shift the tone between these moments
"50/50" is yet another great film to come out of what was a fantastic year for cinema and while it's subject matter will no doubt leave it to be truly only discovered now it's released on DVD, much like director Jonathan Levine's previous indie gem "The Wackness" and again like my review for "Drive" I feel I that I'm truly not doing it justice with this review, even more so when I came home from having watched the film and tried to explain to my wife about the film, only to be greeted with confusion over how a film about cancer could be both funny and not drowned in the usual over emotional tones and as such I can really only urge you to go and watch it yourself to truly understand just how good this film really is.
I do like to watch films on Netflix and I often use the service when I am up at stupid o'clock in the morning when quite frankly, live TV choices are rather limited. I also love to have a film on in the background when I am online, reviewing, shopping or browsing the net. Early this morning when I was browsing the popular films on Netflix I came across 50/50. I remembered seeing a review about this somewhere so I decided it would be worth a watch, especially after reading the plot description. As I watched this on Netflix it is a film only review.
The film begins by following a man jogging along the waterfront. He looks happy and healthy and is flicking through songs on his ipod. We then fast forward to the same man being sat in a doctors surgery being told he has cancer.
Adam is 27. He is young, fit, healthy and has never smoked. So how come he has developed cancer? He is scared and afraid. He doesn't want to die and he doesn't want to be a burden on those he loves either. His girlfriend Rachael shouldn't have to put up with this before the age of 30. Adam struggles to come to terms with his diagnosis and spends hours online obsessing over articles about his type of cancer and research surrounding it. He learns there is a survival rate of 50%.
Adam was an instantly likeable character and I couldn't help but love him from the outset. Even before we learned of his diagnosis Adam was a lovely down to earth man who was just like your everyday lad. He worked hard and loved his family and friends, so much so he didn't want to tell his Mum of his diagnosis.
Initially Rachael seemed nice and I respected her for sticking by Adam but unfortunately she became less and less reliable. This really annoyed me! I appreciate it must be so so difficult having to deal with a situation like this but I just really disliked the way she went about things and she lied to Adam and took advantage of his naïve situation in my opinion.
Kyle is Adams best friend and despite him being a joking friend who is used to winding Adam up he really stood up to his position of best friend and I really admired the way he looked after Adam. Although he did use Adams illness to his advantage at times - especially where girls were concerned! He was there for Adam to provide a shoulder to cry on and to take his mind off of things.
I thought the plot was good and it flowed well. I did find various aspects predictable but the film is based on a true story so its not really something that could be changed. Nevertheless there were some aspects that I didn't know what may happen and I enjoyed watching the film right through until the end to learn how everything was going to pan out.
The acting in the film was of a first class standard. Cancer is no doubt a difficult theme to cover even for the most experienced actors but when it is affecting someone in their 20s and is based on a true story I believe that it was an incredibly difficult setting to adapt to. However, the cast did a wonderful job and I especially liked the character of Kyle as he tried his best to keep Adams spirits high.
I thought the film ran for the right length and I enjoyed watching it. The ending was done very well and everything was wrapped up well and I certainly didn't begin to think how long it was going on for, instead everything was wrapped up in a concise manner.
The film was released in 2011.
It has a run time of 100 minutes.
It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan.
It is rated a 15 in the UK due to bad language, sexual scenes and an emotional plot.
I enjoyed this film. Usually cancer films are very upsetting and I will sit there blubbing but this film was done excellently in the way that it provided light humour whilst also tackling the fact that Adam developed cancer. The issue of cancer is treated with upmost respect but it is nice to see Adam trying to carry on and his friends pushing him to keep his head high. Recommended to any fans of comedy or drama.
Star - Seth Rogen & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Genre - Dromedy
County - USA
Certificate - 15
Run Time - 100 minutes
Blockbusters - £3 per night
Amazon - £5.00 DVD (£8.00 Blue Ray)
Awards - Nominated for 2 Golden Globes
Adam: A tumor?
Dr. Ross: Yes.
Dr. Ross: Yes.
Adam: That doesn't make any sense though. I mean... I don't smoke, I don't drink... I recycle...
You have all seen those scaremongering infomercials that we should know exactly what to do if someone we know suffers a stroke or heart attack and, more alarmingly, that one-in-three of us are going to get cancer at some point, the later not the sort of thing we want to hear when we are in the commercial break for Location, Location, Location! But when it comes to movies, cancer is treated in one way only and that is weepy, melodramatic and certain death cometh. 50/50, based on writer Will Reiser's own battle with the illness, tries to subvert that cancer cliché with the distinct absence of self-pity and sentimentality in the story and victim here. Whether that works or not I will leave up to you.
Reiser is mates with Seth Rogen, he of the bubble perm annoying fat head and star of such films as Pineapple Express and Knocked Up, the man who helped Reiser cope with his disease and convinced him to write a screenplay about his cancer. Now that both are in the position to make that film they apparently have. I rue the day Rogen met Reiser. Cancer is not the sort on thing you make Judd Apatow style comedies on.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ... Adam
Seth Rogen ... Kyle
Anna Kendrick ... Katherine
Bryce Dallas Howard ... Rachael
Anjelica Huston ... Mum Diane
Serge Houde ... Dad Richard
Andrew Airlie ... Dr. Ross
Matt Frewer ... Mitch
Philip Baker Hall ... Alan
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a likeable geek and Seattle radio show researcher, lives with his pretty Prius driving girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) and enjoys Starbucks, jogging, REM (well he does live in Seattle!) and hanging out with his mouthy best mate Kyle (Seth Rogen). But chronic back pain is nagging him more and more these days and so books an appointment with the doc (Andrew Airlie), who diagnoses 'movie cancer', Adam immediately shaving off his hair and throwing up in the toilet, as they do in films.
After breaking the news to Rachael and Kyle it's off to his parents house to tell Mum Dianne (Anjelica Huston) and dad Richard (Serge Houde), who has movie dementia (pop always fumbling and forgetful with a silly smile on his face). Mum wants Adam back home to mother him through it whilst Rachael is reading all the self help books and planning her campaign of support. But instead of getting all depressed about it he decides to be positive and carry on as normal, work colleagues sycophantic to his plight, good company to be had during his surprisingly pleasant chemo sessions with three old blokes who enjoy marijuana cakes during their treatment (its contractual to have pot in a Seth Rogen movie). But dunderhead Kyle is not about to let Adam's cancer get in the way of their social life, dragging him around Seattle's bars to meet hot women, telling Adam to play the cancer card to help them get laid, Adam's relationship with Rachael rather rocky right now.
The benefit of getting movie cancer is you get a beautiful young and quirky therapist (all that Seattle coffee) to pass the tissues in times of need, 24-year-old Katherine (Anna Kendrick) assigned Adam. And yes, you guessed it; they quite like each other, hardly a relationship with prospects. But cancer has different stages of acceptance which Katherine has to ease him though and beginning to dawn on Adam as the big operation approaches that he3 may not make it', 50/50 his chances.
Well guys and girls its 50/50 weather you are going to like this. I certainly didn't. Its boring and rarely funny and certainly not emotional. If you catch cancer early enough the more chance you have of beating it but if you watch this movie the more chance you have of beating yourself up for wasting three quid in Blockbuster's. It's a completely misjudged idea for a"clever comedy" and the idea we should make crude jokes around cancer rather repellent and raises few laughs over the 100 minutes. Having the potty mouthed Seth Rogen doing his shtick to try and raise some cheap knob and shagging gags just irritates more. Strip him out and there is nothing here. The reason he is the film doing exactly that is because the script lacked any real humor and chemistry on first glance and he was clearly given a late re-write opportunity to infest the movie with Seth Rogen ego humor, meaning it becomes just another Seth Rogen movie.
Some critics liked it, in fact quite a lot, perhaps because it's writing about their world rather than the real world. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he of 500 Days of Summer, a similar indie comedy film that split opinion, and Anna Hendrick did the best they can but once your half-way in you can see the film runs short on ideas and laughs.
It cost a cheap $8 million bucks to make and did $40 million back and so enough people out there who wanted to see a date romcom on cancer. Director Jonathan Levine tried his hardest with the idea but the pathos was lacking of Adams condition by all concerned and the romance unconvincing and unlikely. It's almost as if all concerned are suggesting fete here in that Adam's character gets cancer so he can hook up with his pretty therapist who clearly took up the job of therapist to meet boys who like girls like her. It's just an odd idea for a movie and done poorly at that. If you ask me it only got made because Rogen was added to the project to bring that laddish crude humor brand, and so a certain demographic and audience with him, and the producer felt it may be therapeutic for ex cancer suffer Reiser to make his movie. And what on earth is Anjelica Houston doing here?? Sometimes films just fall flat on you.
Imdb.com - 7.7/10.0(126, 254 votes)
Metacritc.com - 77% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com -93% critic's approval rating
Time Out - '50/50 is about right'
Seattle Times -'What ensues is "Beaches" meets "Pineapple Express." Which, I've got to tell you, is pretty much what living with cancer is like!'
The Guardian - '50/50 is a thoughtful and challenging story, grounded in real world characters, that also manages rewarding and cathartic laughs'.
The LA Times - 'A powerfully empathetic performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt saves 50/50 from succumbing to the annoying presence of Seth Rogen and his pothead propagandizing'.
The Observer - 'The absence of self-pity and sentimentality is something of a change. The women involved, however, are given a rather hard time'.
= = = Special Feature = = =
Not that many
Rogen and Reiser guffaw their way through the film on the layered track
---Life inspires art---
Reiser and Rogen talk about their real life experience with the disease.
---The story of 50/50---
More of the same as the boys talk about how the illness shaped the movie.
---Seek and Destroy---
Doctors talk about ho they kill cancer cells.
= = = = = = = = = = = =
I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt, that was pretty much my entire motivation for seeing this film. I missed it in the cinema so ended up watching it online and then buying it on DVD. It centres around the weirdly depressing topic of cancer but it is presented in a very humorous, warm and optimistic way. I personally loved it so I thought I'd share my feelings about it.
The film was released in 2011 and was written by Will Reiser who based the script loosely on his own experience with cancer. I think this is probably what is most striking about the film, it feels honest, candid, tangible and authentic - it really doesn't surprise me that there is personal experience written in to the screenplay because you can see that in the writing and acting.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27 year old radio journalist. He has a live-in girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is an artist and a massive bitch (this is apparent within the first scene). Adam has been suffering from back pain and after a few visits to the doctor he is told her had schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma (essentially cancer of the spine) and that he must undergo chemotherapy. His best friend and colleague Kyle (Seth Rogen) is initially distraught but hopeful when told the odds of survival are 50/50. Adam also reluctantly tells his overbearing mother, Diane (Anjelica Huston), who cares for husband who has dementia.
Adam offers Rachael the chance to leave but she says she will stay with him and care for him, though she does a shockingly bad job of this. Rachael refuses to go to the chemotherapy sessions with Adam and after failing to pick him up after one session their relationship begins to deteriorate. Kyle catches her kissing another guy and confronts her and Adam with the material, which she conveniently tries to displace by suggesting they had problems before the cancer. The couple break up and Kyle tries to help Adam use his cancer to pick up women.
Meanwhile Adam begins counselling with an inexperienced but keen therapist called Katherine (Anna Kendrick). Adam is sceptical of the benefits of therapy and insists he is fine, despite everything slowly unravelling in his personal life. The pair get off to a difficult start but begin to form a firm friendship as they share their thoughts honestly with one another. I don't want to spoil the ending of the movie for you so I won't go any further, my advice would be to watch it as the ending unfolds in a really interesting way.
What I like about this film is that at no point does it try to sugar coat this terrible, terrible disease. It does, however, make light of what is a horrible and unfortunate situation. I found the portrayal of the medical staff to be a particularly funny and yet saddening element. The doctor who gives Adam his diagnosis is stoic, unemotional and completely numb to what he is telling Adam. This is horrible and yet poignant to watch. There are also people like Rachael, Adam's girlfriend, who fail to be there for him in the way that he needs and who ultimately let him down in a big way. In contrast though we also see the positive side of this illness. Katherine, Adam's therapist, goes above and beyond the duty of the job and truly cares for his well being and hopes to make a difference in his life. Kyle, Adam's friend, also provides light relief and entertainment which are much needed during the horrible chemotherapy that he goes through.
Just like the title of the film I think the sad and poignant elements are tempered brilliantly by the funny and touching moments. We get just enough of each as an audience to be touched and saddened but also uplifted by the storyline and by Adam's defiance in the face of terrible affliction. I also think the acting is just brilliant. It isn't at any point overdone, it's subtle and quiet and really truly affecting. Obviously Joseph Gordon-Levitt is amazing, and super hot (weirdly more so with no hair) - but I also think Seth Rogen manages to achieve more of an understated comedy than other films he has been in. Anna Kendrick, who I think is great, manages to embody the character of Katherine and bring a real vulnerability and sensitivity to the role.
The film has a pretty good soundtrack which also adds to and enhances the film but not in an overbearing way at all. It feels very modern, contemporary and appropriate for the age of the characters and just adds another cool element to this already great film.
I think I paid £8.00 for this in HMV which isn't all that bad for a new release. I've enjoyed watching this a couple of times since I bought it and would happily show/lend/recommend it to anyone I know. I think it deals with very important and pertinent issues but in a wholly new and refreshing way. It's sensitive, funny, heart-warming and dark - pretty much all the things I look for in a film.
My only slight reservation would be that the focus of the film is quite heavy, and may well be a sensitive topic for some. I personally feel like it has been handled in a very sensitive, relevant and reverent way but obviously this is personal opinion and for others the jokes may be interpreted as insensitive.
An interesting perspective on a horrible disease.
I came across this on Amazon and saw some good reviews for it, plus I liked the sound of the cast so I gave it a watch. I'm glad I did, because it proved to be quite a moving flick.
50/50 was directed by Jonathan Levine, who has been involved with a couple of things but nothing that really stands out for me, so this is probably his most recognisable piece. I tried not to look at the plot/blurb much before watching so I didn't really know what to expect, and later learned that this was inspired by a true story.
We're introduced to Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a 27 year old guy like any other until he's dealt a diagnosis of cancer. Obviously shocked by this considering he's an otherwise healthy young man, he wants to know the next steps of getting rid of it. Problem is, it's not that easy. It looks like it's literally going to be about being the odds, in this case, the 50/50 odds of survival. If he's going to do this, he'll need all the support he can get and that's where we meet more of his girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) and best friend Kyle (Seth Rogan).
The rest of the film then basically follows his struggles on his path to attempt to beat the disease. We learn more about his relationships, such as with his girlfriend and his parents, the kinds of thoughts and feelings he goes through, the procedures involved and how the diagnosis impacts his life. To help him deal with this is the psychotherapist, Katherine (Anna Kendrick), and it's interesting to see their dynamics both being of a similar age. It's not an 'easy going' plot by any means because it's pretty heartwrenching, despite this being described as a comedy. I won't say any more on the plot, but questions arise as to where Adam's life is going and what will happen after his diagnosis.
What I really liked about this film was its realism and its transparency; it was fairly brutal in its honesty, such as the portrayal of cancer and what comes with such a diagnosis, and it was moving to watch. It didn't edge around it, and the touches of humour helped to lighten it up and make give it a mixture of sad yet hopeful undertones. It was evocative and emotional but not too much thanks to the balance of the genre with comedy, though I'd say the latter was quite underplayed and that was probably a good thing considering the 'morals' of the story and the content.
The characters was strong, including Adam (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) , his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), Katherine (Anna Kendrick) aka the psychotherapist, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) aka the girlfriend, Philip Baker Hall (as Alan from the chemo sessions) and Angelica Huston (Adam's mother Diane) amongst others. I thought it was quite a noteworthy yet almost understated cast, and I think the film had a similar appeal because I hadn't heard anything about it from advertising or other people before. Each character was played, on the whole, reasonably well, making them realistic, easy to watch and easier to relate to or empathise with. For instance, watching Adam go through what he did with the diagnosis was one thing, but there's also the perspective of his mother and his friend who seems, on the surface, to perhaps care a lot less than he really does. It's interesting to see the dynamics between the characters and how events play out because you start to warm to them and want to know what happens.
The film overall had a good quality feel to it, again seemingly understated I thought. It was well scripted, though I did think this could have been stronger in parts. There were some elements involving Adam's girlfriend, for instance, where I felt things didn't flow quite as well or weren't as gripping as they could have been. Scenes were well done, however, and covered different aspects of Adam's life and relationships which helped to keep it both entertaining and interesting. It was also quite believable, in part because of the acting but also because of the events that unfolded, making it easier to watch.
On the DVD cover are some 4 and 5 star ratings, along with reviews such as 'laugh-out-loud hilarious', 'brilliant' and 'one of the best films you'll see this year'. I'm not sure I'd agree with the first review, but it was a pretty good flick that I'm very glad I watched.
All in all I would recommend this. If nothing else, it made me slow down to think and take a different perspective on life for a little while whilst being able to enjoy an entertaining but heartfelt film.
DVD released 2012, rated Certificate 15.
Selling on Amazon for £9.99.
[Also reviewed by me, gothic_moon, on Ciao]