Casino Odds Sound Better


01 October 2011| No Comments on 50/50     by Sean Chavel


Yuks and crude sex humor, but it actually is a very touching movie about living with cancer. 50/50 has Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a healthy looking 27-year old who is diagnosed with a life-threatening tumor on his spine. He has the grace to let his girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) go, but she opts to stay by his side. Yet it is best bud and co-worker Kyle as his most dependable support system – though most of his proposed remedy revolves around girl-chasing and drinking. Kyle is played by Seth Rogen, who is in a way resurrecting his “Pineapple Express” character, but shaping him into a slightly more grown-up professional. This isn’t a slapstick sitcom, however, nor is it a comedy about the excesses of smoking medicinal reefer. It takes concern with the issues at hand. Sincere and heartfelt it is, as written by Will Reiser who based the screenplay on his own experiences with the disease.

Beyond the pathos, this is a very funny movie about a guy who just wants to continue being treated like a guy. His therapist (Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”) is a trainee with only two other patients. She struggles to not say the wrong thing, and Adam (Gordon-Levitt) occasionally runs the session himself half the time. His mother (Angelica Huston) takes every bit of news calamitously, and Adam consoles her more than himself. Fellow patients in chemotherapy (played by Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer) smoke as much pot as possible.

Before the prognosis, Adam was a writer for a Seattle public radio station. Offices at radio stations are never as bright and decorous as this one, but never mind. A party is thrown for him, which finds Adam the task at constantly answering insolent questions that are mood-killers. Kyle seems to be the only guy that gets him, in fact, he has independently purchased cancer patient support books to get a better understanding of his friend. He also participates in head-shaving his friend so he doesn’t have to bear with seeing his own hair fall-out from chemotherapy.

At this point, I want to take back half of the meanest things I have ever said about Bryce Dallas Howard. She deserves an award for Most Improved Actress over time. Along with “The Help,” she seems to be developing a skill at playing selfish, unkind women. In this movie, her character Rachael is not as virtuous as appears, someone who manufactures high spirits to content no one but herself. Kyle urges Adam to get out and meet some girls along with him, by using his cancer as a sympathy device to help him get laid. He gets laid, but the results are mixed feelings.

Time after time, Gordon-Levitt proves himself to be a remarkable and criminally underrated actor. Consider “Mysterious Skin” (2005), “The Lookout” (2007), “500 Days of Summer” (2009) and “Inception” (2010). Perhaps it’s because of his vulnerable size that he’s not considered at a prestige, of say, Edward Norton. His ultimate outburst at his terrible malady is incredibly moving without going into showboat overload. And his face wrenches but holds itself in with patience when the doctor extrapolates the diagnosis with medical terms that are impenetrable. When are doctors going to learn to give the to the point news first and save the mumbo jumbo for second?

100 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Terms of Endearment” (1983); “Longtime Companion” (1990); “Dying Young” (1991); “Life as a House” (2001).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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