When a 27 year-old journalist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wakes up to discover he has a rare form of cancer he’s unprepared for how much his life will change in the coming months. He’s afraid to tell his overprotective mother (Anjelica Huston), his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) tries but fails to handle the situation, and his best friend (Seth Rogen) thinks he should use his situation to try and pick up chicks.
Director Jonathan Levine and screenwriter Will Reiser deliver a story that balances humor and the drama of the situation well for most of the film’s 100 min. running time. Sure the film goes for laughs, but its also surprisingly frank about the emotion of the situation (which is not surprising given the story was adapted from Reiser’s own experiences).
The film has some great supporting performances including Matt Frewer and Philip Baker Hall as two older cancer patients who show Adam (Gordon-Levitt) the ropes and Anna Kendrick as his inexperienced therapist who tries to help him through this tumultuous time.
At times it gets a little too cute (such as Adam and Kyle’s attempts at clubbing while he’s in chemotherapy). 50/50‘s best moments aren’t when the film goes for cheap laughs but when it pulls back and focuses on how Adam’s condition is effecting everyone, not just him.
Despite it’s humor and willingness to go for some big laughs, the film is very much about a young man, and the people who love him, facing his own mortality. My favorite scene of the entire movie is an accidental discovery Adam makes in Kyle’s (Rogen) bathroom that tells you more about their friendship than all the dialogue and hijinks that preceded it.
Released today on Blu-ray and DVD the film includes commentary from the filmmakers, deleted scenes, and a short featurette on the story behind the making of the film.
[Summit Entertainment, Blu-ray $30.49 / DVD $26.99]