50/50 (3 out of 5 stars)
Directed by: Jonathan Levine (The Wackness)
Written by: Will Reisser
Starring: Joseph Gordon Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston
The film starts with a plucky Adam played by the talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt running outside and taking his time because he feels a pain in his back. Adam goes to the doctor and finds out that he has cancer on his spinal cord. Adam now has to deal with many things in his life: a girlfriend who doesn't sleep with him anymore (Howard), a best friend who drives him around, but also uses his cancer to score girls (Rogen), a counselor who is more neurotic than capable (Kendrick), and overbearing mother (Huston). Adam is dealing with living with cancer at a young age, and how to cope with the different aspects of trying to survive physically and emotionally.
When I heard about this comedy film about a man diagnosed with cancer I automatically thought about the awful Judd Apatow film, Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and ironically Seth Rogen. Funny People tried too hard to be both touching and funny. 50/50 does not try hard, it's a natural flowing film that is entertaining. This film is based on a true story. The writer of this film Will Reiser was diagnosed with spinal cancer, and he is actually friends with Seth Rogen. Rogen helped Reisser produce this film. I like that the film feels more genuine than other movies about similar topics. Cancer is often talked about in a maudlin way, but the tears (if they come) in this film seem more natural.
Director Jonathan Levine tackles the screenplay in a realistic yet gritty style, forcing more reality within his shots. I think there are weak moments in the film that often lack texture like Howard's character; she may have done this to Reisser in real life, but there were elements that centered around her character that I never connected with. Prior to his cancer I never understood why the character would be with her. Overall this was a solid film that made me laugh, cry, and feel as though there was a realistic portrayal of this disease.