50/50 is being advertised as a comedy about cancer. Well I want to report a theft. Somebody stole most of the comedy out of the version of the film which I saw. What was left was a movie about a man fighting cancer that was depressing. The acting is first rate but the storyline is somber. Audiences expecting a laugh riot from start to finish are in for a shock.
The film focuses on a 20-something guy named Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). He works for Public Radio in Seattle and has a live in girlfriend named Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard). He also has a best friend named Kyle (Seth Rogen) who is always telling him how he could get more enjoyment out of life.
Adam has been suffering from some back pain and when he has it checked out it is determined he has a cancerous tumor on his spine. He has to undergo chemotherapy in hopes of shrinking the tumor. His mother (Anjelica Huston) offers to move in but she has her hands full with Adam's father who is suffering from Alzheimer's. Rachel says not to worry as she will take care of Adam.
The rest of the movie is about Adam coping with his disease. He does this in spite of his meddling friend, his smothering mother, his unfaithful girlfriend, his inexperienced counselor (Anna Kendrick), and a remote and detached doctor. These people are not particularly ha-ha funny.
The acting is above average with Gordon-Levitt doing a terrific job as Adam. The character goes through a lot of changes and Gordon-Levitt is there for them all. The main thing he does is make us care about Adam and his problems. Rogen is puppy dog loyal as Kyle but he is also annoying as he tries to relate every problem Adam is facing to sex. You just want to tell him to back off and calm down.
Kendrick, Howard and Huston are adept as the three women in Adam's life. Huston is one I could have enjoyed seeing more. There seems to be a lot more to her character than what makes it on to the screen. Howard seems to have the villain franchise all sewn up with this role and her shrew in The Help. Kendrick is naively warm as Katherine the counselor.
The film is rated R for profanity, sexual situations and the subject matter of cancer.
Audiences need to know what they are facing when they walk into 50/50. This is not a laugh a minute comedy, at least not for me. It is a fairly serious look at a very serious subject matter. Whether you want to participate in viewing Adam's journey is a matter of choice, based on what feelings you bring with you.
I scored 50/50 a depressed 6 out of 10 on www.jackiekcooper.com.
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