50/50  Rated R  3 stars10-19-11-movie-review.jpg

Interesting trivia: Director Jonathan Levine is the guy who directed All the Boys Love Mandy Lane! So, here’s hoping 50/50 (100 minutes) makes a TON of money, because fan boys and girls have been talking about that Amber Heard flick since it was finished in 2006, and a successful box office for 50/50 might give an American Studio the impetus to release it stateside.

Quality-wise, this is way better than Seth Rogen’s other cancer comedy, which we have all collectively decided to pretend is in no way similar to this movie. Except Seth Rogen is in them both and they both involve his friend who has cancer. But when I think about it, they are actually very different movies, because this one involved interesting characters instead of caricatures of real people, and was actually funny.

Adam (Joseph Cobra Commander Gordon-Levitt) is dating Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). Howard is usually gorgeous, and Rachael is supposedly out of Adam’s league, but she is com-ing off as kinda whiney and trashy. Not only is Adam way more together than her, her whole character is a poorly put together clichéd mess. Since the script is loosely based on an incident in the life of screenwriter Will Reiser (who is friends with Seth Rogen in real life as well), it begs the question: did he date a girl named Rachael who was this much of a mess? Is she a real person who he is making look way, way worse in the screenplay because he needs to work some stuff out and bashing an ex-girlfriend in his movie was one way of doing that? It would be a sad commentary on his screenwriting skills if he made up a character this limited.

Adam works at a kind of NPR with his friend Kyle (Rogen). Adam doesn’t drink, smoke, or drive, so he is genuinely puzzled when he finds out he has a rare, difficult to effectively treat, spinal cancer. Because jogging every morning and living a super healthy lifestyle will guarantee that you live forever. Really though, Adam does a pretty good job of dealing overall. As he points out to his therapist Katie (Anna Kendrick), life is 100% fatal (I may be paraphrasing).

Having dealt with the shock of a cancer diagnosis, Adam invites his mother (Angelica Huston) and father (Serge Houde) to dinner so he can fill them in. Again I wonder: In real life did Reiser have a father with Alzheimer’s? If not, then this is a pret-ty cynical attempt to jerk the audience around. If yes, then why not leave out that part of the story and focus on how his mother deals? Is it padding? The scenes with the father don’t add a whole lot of depth to the film, Houde doesn’t get a whole lot of dialogue, and the character is a sort of emotional wallpaper.

So, having filled in the family, Adam heads in for his chemo treatment. Naturally, Rachael refuses to share the experience. To make up for failing to handle the situation perfectly, she invests in a retired race dog named Skeletor. Let us pause and acknowl-edge how awesome that name is. While sitting through chemo-therapy, Adam makes friends with Alan (Philip Baker Hall) and Mitch (Matt Frewer). Mitch brings pot infused macaroons to the hospital, and a good time is had by all.

Kyle starts using Adam’s cancer to pick up chicks, which works well for him (since he is a player) but not so much for Adam (due to Adam’s awkwardness/domesticity/overwhelming depression). Here’s where things start to get a bit depressing. In a movie about cancer, it is surprising that didn’t happen earlier. My husband suggested that, overall, the movie was uplifting. I pointed out that I felt jerked around and manipulated. Perhaps, as he said, this move falls outside my skill set.

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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