Monday, October 17, 2011

Movie Review: 50/50

Director Jonathan Levine's 50/50 is the feel good cancer movie of the year based on a true story of screenwriter Will Reiser and his battle with a rare type of cancer.  The film takes a grim topic and dissects it using both humorous and touching sequences that ultimately culminate in one of the best movie-going experiences of the year and a showcase for the rising talent that is Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Reiser and Seth Rogan are real-life friends and have collaborated on several screenwriting ventures and Rogan reprises his supporting-friend role in this film.  The movie focuses on Gordon-Levitt's character of Adam Lerner (loosely based on Reiser's life), a researcher for a Seattle-based public radio station who receives unfortunate news that he has developed a serious tumor in his back at a very young age.

Levine does an excellent job of showing both the serious side of cancer and the hope and joy that comes from having a solid support system.  Gordon-Levitt owns this movie and bears the weight of the serious complications that come with a cancer diagnosis.  We see him sulk around for most of the film in a believable state of denial and hopelessness.  Rogan provides the comic relief that plays well against Gordon-Levitt's sorrow while the super-cute Anna Kendrick (essentially playing the same role she did in Up in the Air) is serviceable as Lerner's therapist / love interest.  Rogan seems to keep playing the same slightly-high, frat boy character in every movie.  I realize that he has little range as an actor but for once I'd like to see him try something different.  While his performance is slightly frustrating, Gordon-Levitt is a revelation and it's hard to believe how far he's come as an actor since moping around on the baseball field in Angels in the Outfield. After three solid performances (including 500 Days of Summer and Inception), he's definitely one of the best young actors in Hollywood right now.

50/50 gets well earned bonus points for a powerhouse final 15 minutes that feature an awesome Total Recall reference, a hilarious line about urination and Pearl Jam's epic Yellow Ledbetter that sounds as the credits roll.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and really did buy the emotional weight that Gordon-Levitt's character carried throughout.  The scene where Adam Lerner is about to go into surgery is particularly moving with a solid supporting performance by Angelica Houston as Lerner's mother.  This film makes you cherish your own life and does so with some well timed laughs throughout.  I definitely recommend seeing this movie and give 50/50 4.5 out of 5 JRs.  One of the best movies of 2011 for sure.

1 comment:

Jay Lo said...

Great review! I’m pleased with this movie I thought it was one of the great ones of last year. At first, I didn’t want to see this movie didn’t look interesting, but my coworker from DISH insisted I view it. I use DISH online which is an awesome feature to view all my movie content. I can go from watching live TV to my DVR and nothing but movies available to view so movie night is a blast. A great way to play catch up on shows or movies I’ve missed. An awesome answer for those of us on the run and cant watch much TV I can take my iPad with me and watch on lunch break.