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Film Review: 50/50

Oct 09, 2011 11:21AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Will Reiser wrote 50/50 based on his own experiences when he was diagnosed with cancer in his mid-20s. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam, a normal guy who works for a local NPR station and finds out that he has cancer. The film then follows Adam’s aggressive cancer treatment and how that affects his relationships with his friends, family and even acquaintances. 

Because this movie draws from Will Reiser’s experiences it comes across as honest and heartfelt -- this allows the comedy to work while not diminishing the drama. In fact, the comedy makes the drama that much more effective. The characters in the film draw you in so much that when Adam’s condition worsens it is truly affecting. What 50/50 does extremely well is that it not only makes you feel for the cancer victim but for all of his friends and family. There are a number of very touching scenes that reveal how cancer affects loved ones just as much as the patient.

Seth Rogan -- as Adam's lifelong pal Kyle -- has the majority of the comedy scenes. There are a few extremely funny scenes that made me laugh out loud. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent in the lead role -- he is just a likable guy in general, but it's his ability to play this part with subtlety that shows his skills as an actor. Anjelica Huston was quite good as Adam’s stressed out and over protective mother as well. Perhaps my favorite performance in the movie was Anna Kendrick who played the rookie therapist Katherine. Kendrick is a terrific actress and played her part extremely well. Much like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, she has a likable quality which is hard to find.

Director Jonathan Levine paces the movie well -- it switches from comedy to impactful drama effortlessly, something that seems impossible considering the subject matter. Further, 50/50 never fails to lose sight of the seriousness of the illness it depicts, and the film makers do an excellent job of showing all of the different angles of this horrible disease and the many different ways it impacts people. Anyone who has had cancer or knows someone who has will not be offended by this movie, in fact quite the opposite.

50/50 is an extremely well made film that explores a subject matter that few film makers would take on, especially with the inclusion of comedy -- the creative team pulled it off in spectacular fashion. It is a rare film that really runs the gamut of emotions and does make you laugh and cry with amazing efficiency. 50/50 is another great film in 2011, which is turning out to be one of the best years for good movies in quite some time. I highly recommend seeing this film.

Films like 50/50 – Mask, Philadelphia and My Life

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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