50/50

4 10 2011

We all know somebody who has suffered from cancer. Despite that fact, there haven’t been many movies that use the disease for comedic effect. However, 50/50 isn’t strictly a comedy movie. Instead, it’s about what happens when an average guy is suddenly told that he has a 50% chance of survival.

From the trailers, 50/50 may have looked like a goofy comedy movie with serious undertones. However, it’s more like a drama with some comedy mixed in to lighten the mood. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the main character, Adam, a 27 year old radio producer who is diagnosed with cancer.

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Like most 27-year-olds, ‘cancer’ is the last word Adam expects to hear after a routine visit to the doctor for a sore back. Adam claims that he can’t have cancer, as he doesn’t smoke, nor does he expose himself to radioactive beams. Adam, understandably, is in denial – the first stage of grief.

After receiving the bad news, Adam discusses his problem with his best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), along with his girlfriend and his parents. Each of them is forced to deal with Adam’s disease in their own way, while continuing to maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives. As we see them progress throughout the film, it helps us realize that cancer affects more than just the individual patient.

At this point, many of you are probably thinking that 50/50 sounds depressing and predictable. Fortunately, every scene is imbued with a certain charm that keeps it from becoming just another terminal illness movie.

Put simply, 50/50 has something that too many other movies lack: the ability to resonate with its audience. Adam is a character with whom many people can easily relate. He struggles with normal, everyday problems, like relationships and work, and sometimes gets into fights with his friends and relatives.

Adam isn’t a perfect character, which makes him all the more likeable. He doesn’t calmly wait for cancer to determine his fate; instead, he does what most people would do in the situation. He gets stressed out, confused, and, at times, depressed. Most importantly, he never gives up.

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50/50 is tied together by a talented cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen clearly have chemistry, and they genuinely seem like two best friends. Of course, Rogen’s trademark humour helps to alleviate some of the more depressing moments of the film.

In addition, the gorgeous Anna Kendrick plays Katherine, Adam’s therapist. As the awkward, shy, doctoral student, she tries to apply her textbook lessons to his treatment plan. As they both soon realize, Katherine has no more experience with cancer than Adam himself. Their developing relationship is one of the most entertaining parts of the movie.

By the end 50/50, you’ll feel grateful for everything that you have in life. No matter how difficult your life may seem at the moment, there is always somebody out there who has it worse than you. Essentially, it helps us realize how short life can be.

Seeing a relatable character struggle with such a terrible disease helps us put our own lives into perspective. Whether you identify with Adam’s relationship to his overprotective mother, or to his best friend Kyle, 50/50 helps you understand what it’s like to have cancer.

4.5 stars out of 5