50/50 (2011)


I’m Peeing Right Now

I have said that I’m not big on drama before, but I’m definitely a big fan of comedies.  I just prefer a movie that will make me feel better to one that will make me feel worse.  So when I started hearing about today’s movie, I didn’t know whether or not I should actually see it.  It’s a comedy, sure.  But it’s also a pretty heavy drama, and one that’s pretty real and something most people can relate to.  I’ve never been put in the position of dealing with someone with a life threatening disease and I hope to keep it that way, but I can still understand the idea of it.  And that’s exactly what this movie is about.  I didn’t know if I wanted to see it or not, but I did because my roommate made me do it.  So let’s see how it went in my review of 50/50, written by Will Reiser (and based loosely on his life), directed by Jonathan Levine, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston, Serge Houde, Bryce Dallas Howard, Matt Frewer, Philip Baker Hall, and Andrew Airlie.

Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives with his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), and works with his long-time friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), who hates Rachael.  Adam starts feeling strange pains in his back and, when he visits the doctor (Andrew Airlie), finds out the pain is caused by a rare cancer in his spine.  He must start chemotherapy right away.  He tells Kyle, who brushes it off, saying Adam’s going to beat this, no problem.  He tells Rachael, who says she’ll be there for him.  He then tells his mother, Diane (Anjelica Huston), who immediately says she’s going to move in and take care of him, but Adam doesn’t allow it because she’s already taking care of his father (Serge Houde), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  He also reluctantly starts going to a therapist, Katie McCay (Anna Kendrick), who is taking him as her third patient.  While undergoing chemo, he befriends two old guys, Alan (Philip Baker Hall) and Mitch (Matt Frewer).  The rest of the movie is about Adam dealing with his situation and trying to beat his disease.

This is such a fucking good movie!  There were just as many laugh out loud moments as there were really emotion ones.  I am not ashamed at all to confess to you that I cried during this movie.  I cried even though my roommate was sitting right next to me watching it and I was desperately trying to out-man him.  (It’s okay, that little bitch cried more than me, so I win).  The story is great and instantly real, even if it’s not something you’ve personally dealt with, because the story gives you time to get really close to these people so you feel for everyone.  As much as it’s super real and touching, it’s also really funny.  You never really know what you’re going to feel next.  The best thing about the movie (which could be both a comment on the writing and the performances) is how realistically the people react to the news.  I feel pretty confident that my mom would spaz out and become overbearing like Anjelica Huston did.  I also feel like I would totally react like Seth Rogen did, making jokes and acting like the other person shouldn’t worry about it because they’re totally going to beat it.  I can even understand the Rachael situation.  You know from the start that this relationship may not be going so well, and the news that Adam has cancer would just make you stick with it even if you wouldn’t normally because of how shitty you’d feel for leaving him.  Even though you find out Adam has cancer really early on, the movie doesn’t take it too seriously until around the middle.  That’s when it starts pulling you back and forth violently between emotions.  Seth Rogen says something funny, then Rachael cheats on Adam.  Then more funny stuff, then more sad stuff.  This movie is too good to ruin, but there’s a really sad part in the middle that comes out of nowhere that made my chest feel like my heart literally dropped in my chest.  It wasn’t until the very end that the realism of the drama hit me so hard that the tears started coming.  The stuff at the end was almost too real and caused my brain to insert myself and my nearly-lifetime friend (the crying little bitch) into the roles of Rogen and Levitt, but it was just as sad and real on either side of it.  Whether I had the cancer, or I had to be the friend and he had cancer, it hit me too hard either way and I couldn’t help it.  I cried.  Man Cred gone.  Thankfully, there wasn’t much Man Cred to begin with.  Also thankfully, the movie doesn’t leave you hanging.  The ending is uplifting so that I wouldn’t have to leave it bummed out.

The performances were fantastic all the way around.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was so real that I couldn’t help but put myself in his shoes from the very beginning.  He handled cancer in the exact same way I think I would.  He just shut himself off from it, told the people he had to tell, and just kind of hoped he wouldn’t have to talk about it anymore.  Near the end of the movie, when he had a breakdown about it, it cemented that this was exactly what I’d do.  I’d have a tough, “I don’t care about this” facade up, but something would cause me to crack and scream really loudly in a car.  Seth Rogen was better than I’ve ever seen him before.  Yeah, he plays it very similar to most of his other performances, but we find out towards the end that he’s actually thinking a lot more about it than he’s letting on.  The scene between him and Levitt in the car before the surgery near the end of the movie is what finally cracked me.  Anna Kendrick was also amazing.  I’d only seen her in Twilight and (briefly) in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World before this movie, so I had little idea that the girl could act.  She was just really awkward and adorable, but trying too hard to put on a professional demeanor for her patient so they would let her help.  I can relate to that need to prove yourself to a patient/customer so that they’ll listen to you.  The introduction to her character was one of the funniest parts in the movie, but she was also involved in some of the more emotional scenes.  Anjelica Huston made me think a lot about my mom, and Levitt kind of being a distant son made me contemplate on my distance as a son.  I probably won’t change, but I thought about it.  Bryce Dallas Howard performed her role very well, but I hope she takes on a likeable character soon.  The last two movies I’ve seen her in made me hate her, but she also seems so likeable that I don’t want to hate her.  Either way, the way she played her character in this movie actually kind of made me understand her reasoning behind doing something shitty.  I didn’t approve of the characters actions, but Howard made me understand it.  Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer did not have a lot of screen time in the movie, but the scenes were very memorable because one of their scenes was so freaking heavy that I’m still a little bummed out about it.

50/50 was the definition of an “emotional roller-coaster” to me.  So much funny mixed seamlessly into moments so heavy that this movie became either the fourth or fifth movie that was ever able to make me cry.  It lifts you up with some great comedy and laugh out loud moments, and plummets you back to earth with super heavy, super real moments, then goes right back up again.  All of the performances in this movie are the best that I’ve seen out of any of the actors.  Don’t let the drama scare you off, you’ll leave this movie feeling uplifted if you have a pulse.  Check this movie out ASAP.  I’m buying it immediately, and I really can’t foresee someone not liking this.  50/50 gets “I bet you’d be a good girlfriend” out of “I look like Voldemort.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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