Opening 3 May 2012
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27-year-old straight-laced neat freak who prefers long-term relationships, jogs, bites his nails, and rides buses rather than getting a drivers license because “driving is dangerous”. Laid-back Kyle (Seth Rogen) is untidy, frankly bawdy, unabashedly pursues the opposite sex, and is adventurous. Friends since high school, time and again Kyle drives them to work at the radio station and advises Adam about what type of women he should pursue. Kyle abhors Adam’s semi-live-in girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), an aspiring artist. Then, instead of a backache, Adam finds out he has an unusual form of spinal cancer, whereby the normalcy of their lives comes to a shuddering halt. The scene where Adam learns about his cancer should be a must-see for doctors: Adam reminds the doc to stop dictating into the machine and talk to him.
Telling his parents is tricky: Diane (Oscar® winner Anjelica Huston), overburdened taking care of his dementia-absent father Richard (Serge Houde), just wants to pull her protective cloak tighter around Adam. Fellow chemotherapy patients Alan (Philip Baker Hall) and Mitch (Matt Frewer) introduce him to medical cannabis - Kyle is only too happy to medicate with Adam, while his young therapist-in-training Katherine (Anna Kendrick) nevertheless manages to open his eyes, and heart, to life’s paragons. As Adam travels his 50-50-survival course, this shared journey clarifies for each one what truly matters in life.
In his based-on-real-life screenplay, Will Reiser balances humor (Kyle compares Adam’s odds of beating the cancer to a casino game) and pathos (Adam, “just want it to be over I’m so fucking tired of being sick”) that is finely depicted through the interplay between Gordon-Levitt and Rogen, Reiser’s off-camera best buddy. That personal connection, and Reiser being on set during the shoot offering insight and advice, surely enriched the production. Deemed a cancer comedy by Reiser and Rogen, Jonathan Levine is at the helm with Terry Stacey behind the camera, Zene Baker editing and original music by Michael Giacchino. The subtleties of facing death head-on is discernible in 50/50, but, just when tears might fall, (most often) Rogen lets out a zinger that instead triggers laughter-relief in the audience. (Marinell Haegelin)