50/50 - Blu-ray Review

At least 50% better than most other cancer films.

It's a rare film that shows you all of its problems, wears them on its sleeve almost, and yet still ends up consistently and absolutely both delighting and moving you. 50/50 is one of those rare films.

The problems then, up front and earnest though they are. There's Seth Rogen for one. Yes, he was really the best friend of writer Will Reiser, who did really have to battle through the events depicted in 50/50, but I contest that that doesn't excuse him for being so catastrophically out-of-tone on several occasions. This may be 'based on a true story' but it is also now a dramatised one, with its own tone and ideas. Rogen uttering such Rogen-esque lines as 'I fucking nailed the cunt' do not fit with those ideas. He's at his best when he's not being the normal Rogen, which sadly only happens during a handful of admittedly moving scenes.

Others? Well, director Jonathan Levine ill-advisedly goes down the route of manufacturing a third act conflict, apparently believing for a second there that he was making a Romantic Comedy. There's a scene with Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) negotiating a hospital corridor well stoned, which looks like something out of a Seth Rogen film and perhaps, you could argue, the script might have been funnier.

Those, errors though they may be, cannot erase the fact that 50/50 is successful at its main aim; to make a film about cancer that isn't maudlin, doesn't manipulate the viewer, or attempt to glory in the depression the disease can bring. Its honest. It also feels fresh and lively, something new. There's emotion here but, third act conflict aside, you never feel like you've fallen in to a trap when you experience it. The best examples of where Levine is most successful are all quiet ones; Adam being told he has cancer by his mumbling doctor, a late phone conversation between Adam and his shrink (Anna Kendrick), the potential last conversation between Adam and Kyle (Rogen), any scene with a tremendous Anjelica Huston.

So, despite the fact that Rogen is here swearing obtusely and that, despite the marketing, this is more Drama than Comedy, it's so successful and so unlike the other cancer films you've seen that you probably won't care. It presents a simple idea; that life is funny and that it can and does go on throughout illness. It pulls it off with disarming assuredness. At least 50% better than most other cancer films.

Look further...

'It is a crime that Will Reiser’s screenplay wasn’t nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but I don’t imagine it matters much to him.' - The Movie Snob, A


  1. i don't mind rogen. i know people *cough* my husband *cough* who say completely out of place things they think are funny when there are difficulties happening in life, so even that felt real to me.

    i was just really blown away by this movie.

  2. I was too really. I'm not a big fan of his but nor am I desperate to see him crop up in everything. Thought he pushed it a bit too far here but I can completely see what you mean.