50/50 (2011)

I wouldn't recommend the movie 50/50 to everyone; as a matter of fact, probably to only about fifty per cent of my readers. It's a very odd sort of romantic comedy because the romance is subtle and the comedy is dark. In addition to that, the language is rough. The pairing of male stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen as best buddies automatically means there's going to be plenty of crude guy talk. So much so, that if you're not used to some really vulgar banter about sex, skip this film altogether. It's about a young man named Adam, played by Gordon-Levitt, who is diagnosed with a very serious and rare kind of cancer.

The story deals with how he, his best friend Kyle played by Rogen, his girlfriend Rachael portrayed by Bryce Dallas Howard, his therapist Katherine played by Anna Kendrick, and his parents, all handle the situation in different ways. There's a lot of humour, and certainly some poignancy, mostly coming from the reaction of Adam's mother, Diane, to his illness. She is played flawlessly, as always, by Angelica Huston - a painfully smothering figure. As a result, Adam pushes her away - after all, he's a grown-up, and feels that his support should come from his girlfriend, and best friend, not to mention the guys he becomes close to in his chemotherapy group.

Rogen is his usual obnoxious self but he manages to endear us to his character. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the rather clueless and heartless girlfriend well, and Levitt is funny and awkward without being at all maudlin. Ultimately, however, it is Kendrick that provides an incandescent quality to the film. Those who've read my previous reviews know I adore her as an actress. Her face is endlessly expressive, and for a woman who's not conventionally beautiful she has the warmest smile and most sparkling eyes, not to mention the fact that her comic timing is spot on. I liked the movie through and through but she, and her relationship with Levitt's character, is what makes it special. Again, I must stress, if you're sitting down to watch this on date night, be sure you and your honey are comfortable with some graphic language and generally guy-related shenanigans. And definitely don't turn it on with the kids in the room. Yet if you want to be left with a great feeling from a rather unusual movie, 50/50 is one to try.

Movie reviewed by Georgina Young-Ellis

Back to Movie Night

Return to Movie A - Z