Movie #1: 50/50, (2011), starring Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, directed by Jonathan Leavine
Cancer is one of those universal things that has invaded the lives of so many people both within our own little personal part of the world, but also permeates just about everyone else’s too. In that way, no one ever goes through this awful, awful disease alone. Setting out to make what amounts to be a comedic drama, if there is such a thing, is a monumental task when it comes to being done right.
This film does a great job of not skirting over the ugly parts of cancer, in that it put’s front and center the pain not only that people with the disease suffer through, but also so many other people within that person’s social circle. My Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer years ago, had his prostate removed and has been cancer-free ever since thankfully, but absolutely fresh in my mind to this day is the unknown that seeps into your brain when it comes to this disease. Could this happen? How bad is it? Is he going to die? How do they know? It’s TERRIBLE.
Trying to visualize being 27-years old and finding out you have cancer is mind-blowing to me, and is something that I can’t really fathom dealing with. So first and foremost, if you’re reading this, and have dealt with it yourself, I’m in awe of you.
No matter the type, stage, whatever, you are a fucking hero.
I have no clue how I would land on my feet, tell my family, or wrap my brain around basically losing my compass that takes me through life. It’s an impossible situation. The only thing I could think of to even remotely come close to what it must feel like would be to be flying a plane alone, at night, and you lose all lights and instruments. Your engines are still running, you’re still flying, but it’s complete and utter darkness, and you have nothing at that moment to guide you.
Joseph Gordon-Leavitt does a wonderful job showing both the range of ups and downs that go with a diagnosis of this sort, as well as the incredible amount of awkward situations that arise within social interactions with others. (His performance was nominated for a Best Actor Golden Globe in 2012) Whether it’s calling out Anna Kendrick’s Katherine on her “sea otter tap” attempts at establishing a physical connection between therapist and patient, or the fantastic give and take he has throughout the movie with Seth Rogen’s Kevin.
GL and Rogen’s chemistry really does shine for the duration. Moments like Adam’s breakdown after driving Kevin’s Jeep one-way and kicking him out, or him finally bringing Kevin home and finding the “Dealing with Cancer Together” book in his apartment, but also him chiming in from the kitchen after confronting Bryce Dallas Howard’s Rachael after she cheats on Adam are all fantastically grounding, and humorously real, respectively. (Her passing on going to chemo with him because of the “energy”? Fuck that noise!)
Speaking of Rogen though, and this is not quite a knock, but is he the same character in every movie he acts in? (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad (though I guess he’s a cop in this one, but still, a very similar feeling cop), Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Green Hornet, This Is the End, Neighbors, and The Interview are all films I’ve seen with him starring). I feel like the only variation of Seth Rogen is his weight at the time. Thankfully, I find him entertaining regardless. I’ve yet to see him in Steve Jobs (as Steve Wozniak) and the James Franco directed The Sound and the Fury. Those would probably be the two more serious turns on his filmography and I’ll have to check them out.
She plays awkward superbly well, and I liked her just as much in this film as I liked her in 2009’s Up in the Air. (I totally had this movie and that movie swapped in my head chronologically, would’ve bet my house 50/50 came out first).
Overall, I think this movie does a fantastic job of showing a hopeful and lighter-side of cancer while not ignoring the grit and the pain it causes everyone around it. I think the soundtrack does a great job of matching both the tone and emotion throughout the movie, with a couple personal favorite’s of mine being “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees, and “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam.
Couple random tidbits:
- Adam brings a girl home from a night out…oh hi Jessica Parker Kennedy, aka Max from Black Sails!
- Will Reiser, writer and executive producer, wrote 50/50 using his experiences both dealing with and seeing others deal with his own cancer diagnosis.
Verdict: At 4 stars out of 5 for me, it’s a keep.
Next: Zack Snyder’s 300.