50 50

Created on Thursday, 29 September 2011 Written by Matt Mungle

50 50 as reviewed in The Phantom TollboothLanguage! A genuine look at a painful subject.

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard

Director: Jonathan Levine

Scritpwriters: Will Reiser

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Production Company: Mandate Pictures, Point Gray,

Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use

Running Length: 99 min.

I was all ready to give 50/50 one of my highest ratings of the fall; but then Seth Rogen opened his mouth. Once again a well written and beautifully portrayed film turns away viewers with crude dialogue that is un-warranted and certainly unnecessary. That aside I think 50/50 had a lot to offer movie goers who want a genuine look at a painful subject.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27 year old male. He exercises, eats right, and in his own words; even recycles. So when he is diagnosed with cancer it comes as a shock to him and his family. This film is about his reaction to the news and how one begins to live life in the light of possible death. His best friend from high school (Seth Rogen) proves to be a constant companion even if at times he is at a loss for what to say or do. Add in a panicked mother (Anjelica Huston), a wishy-washy girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), and a grief counselor in training (Anna Kendrick), and you find Adam dealing with more than just cancer.

Though the synopsis sounds depressing this is a comedy at heart and does a nice high wire balancing act of being very funny without ever poking fun at anyone. That is important not only to the film but to cancer patients who would be drawn to buy a ticket. Adam handles every aspect of his life as though watching it through a window. He always seems to be in a state of contemplation. Levitt has a warmth and genuine spirit about him that makes roles like this sing. It is some of that same magic he brought to the brilliant film, (500) Days of Summer. The rest of the cast also deliver strong performances that accentuate Adam’s life and they all come together in a nice dance. Kendrick, though not straying far from her comfort zone, is still very cute and I adore her in these roles. Like Up in the Air, her character here is in a profession that is above her life experiences and she is trying hard to live up to the title on her business card. And she shines in this one nicely.

I even liked Seth Rogen when he wasn’t spewing streams of perversion and unnecessary vulgarity. He is the type of friend you would want if going through this sort of life altering event. He doesn’t have all the answers and at times seems very self serving. But at the heart you know he is trying to cope the best way he knows how. At the root of everything he does, he really cares for his friend and wants to help. Sadly the writers, or Seth himself, thought that part of that character needed to be the sophomoric one that comes out in far too many scenes.

50/50 is rated R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use. Oddly enough all this happens when Rogen’s character is on screen. Other than that the only issue in this film is the heavy subject matter of a young man dying of cancer. As much as I appreciated this film I can only give it 3 out of 5 macaroons. It had the potential to be a brilliant film but the writers chickened out and added in elements that weren’t needed. They should have simply relied on the story, the actors, and the intelligence of the audience. I recommend this only if you are able to look past the language and Seth’s character. It will be far too awkward for a date night or watching with mixed family members. So that narrows the audience considerably; which is sad due to the fantastic performance of the other cast members and the well written story line.

Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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