Watched Mar 28, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
50/50 is an apt title in more ways than one, not only referring to Adam’s chance of surviving cancer, but also the way the film is split between broad buddy comedy and traditional cancer drama. It is to the film’s credit that the two halves complement each other surprisingly well. Cancer films conjure memories of those terrible exploitative made-for-TV films that force inspirational life lessons down the audience’s throat in increasingly manipulative ways. 50/50 hits the familiar beats (it is probably impossible to ignore them when dealing with such a story) but at any point where it appears to be veering too far down a morose path the film will either throw a curveball or a well timed joke to bring things back on an even keel.
Despite every character fulfilling well worn roles (the crude and sex obsessed best friend, the worried mother etc.) they each serve the story, to a point. Anjelica Huston is brilliant in a very small role and Anna Kendrick delivers another fine performance bringing warmth and humour to an underwritten role. Unfortunately, I’ve always disliked Seth Rogen’s shtick and he is in full-on Rogen mode here. In truth he dominates the film too much when the pairing are together which makes it seem less like a friendship than it probably should. However, away from Rogen’s sizeable shadow, Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers a strong performance that rarely falls into melodramatic cliché.
The film ends up being touching but never cloying and funny but rarely contrived. The film’s diagnosis is healthy and its chances end up being much stronger than 50/50.