I will tell you upfront that I was biased toward 50/50 because I have a deep and undying love for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and anything he does. I find him versatile and wonderful, and I’ve pretty much had a crush on him ever since I saw Angels in the Outfield when I was little. But this trailer (as many trailers do) looked pretty promising:
The movie itself did not disappoint. It was a perfectly balanced mixture of comedy and heartbreak–it takes itself seriously, but not too seriously.
The film is apparently loosely based off the life of its screenwriter, and Seth Rogen was also his best friend in real life. Perhaps that is why 50/50 is the most enjoyable I have ever found Rogen–he is playing himself. His jokes are laugh-outloud-funny when they need to be, but he is also an utterly real and heartwarming character.
The strength of 50/50 is its utter realness. Its drama is not hyped up–every one of its characters has reactions and flaws that feel like those of real people. Anna Kendrick’s young therapist struggles to find the right thing to say, while Gordon-Levitt’s Adam grapples with anger, numbness, defeat, and fear. He conveys everything with a subtlety that is so rare in movies nowadays. Adam only truly breaks down once, and in that moment you believe it because the movie has not tried to drag you up and down an emotional rollercoaster. It does not take cheap shots or try too hard to pull on your heartstrings.
The acting, down to Bryce Dallas-Howard’s completely unlikeable Rachael, is impeccable. The film is well-casted–I love that everyone they picked is talented but not so wellknown that you know they were overpaid.
The weakest spot in the film is perhaps the presence of Adam’s Alzheimer’s-ridden father. That just felt like an unnatural jerk the film could have done without. The moment Adam shares with his father is sweet, but we didn’t need it. We are already there with him and his mother.
The ending is also full of that subtlety the movie captures so well. There is no kiss between Adam and his ex-therapist. Just the promise of one. And that’s what this film ending up being about: the promise of things to come.