“50/50” is a touching, funny autobiographical story of a young man trying to deal with cancer and his own mortality. Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) takes us through all of the physical and heart-wrenching elements of fighting cancer – discovery; confusion and denial; pain and hair loss; lifestyle changes; fear and acceptance; and finally, life-threatening surgery.
Cancer…funny? Adam was Kyle’s (Seth Rogen’s) real life best friend, and Seth Rogen can make many odd circumstances on film seem outrageously funny. He does what comes naturally, and he is shameless. To Kyle, Adam’s 50/50 chances of survival are winning odds in Vegas. Plus, his buddy’s illness is a good way to pick up women.
The movie doesn’t hedge on the grim business of facing death. Kyle’s humor is offered for balance. Together, these two illustrate the courage in friendship, hope, and holding on, not turning stupid and sappy, and not acting like someone you aren’t.
Adam is the focus of 5 or 6 separate stories. There is Kyle, the oaf with large biological needs; the cheating girlfriend; the needy, well-intended mom; the lovely, smiling therapist; the cold, indifferent medical staff; and the fellow cancer patients.
Adam is at their center, like the hub of a spoked wheel. Gordon-Levitt takes Adam’s character, with his fussy, endearing mannerisms, and nicely bridges his initial attitude of indifference to one of thoughtful self-realization. The role is anything but self-serving and the audience cheers hard for this young guy.
All of these different characters and vignettes interleave well, supporting a narrative that builds tightly to a suspenseful conclusion.
Does Adam live? You have to see the movie which is well worth the price of the ticket.