How much bad can you really say on a film about a young, redeemable guy who gets Cancer? I suppose not much really, but fortunately there’s very little bad to say about this new comedy/drama from Jonathan Levine. 50/50 is an inspired and inspiring look at a young man, and one with virtually no character flaws, who learns that he has a life-threatening tumor at the base of his spine. Well, that much you got from the trailer I’m sure.Watching the film in it’s entirety though, doesn’t really offer up anything that’s unique to the trailer; it’s actually a pretty predictable and even-toned film. The problem is, many of the funniest lines you’ve already seen in the trailer, and even some of the more tender moments too. Everything else is sort of meaningful filler.
Sure, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character has a moment of near mental breakdown, that’s new from the trailer (and much welcomed), but still not unexpected. Even worse, some of the scenes from the trailer are not in the actual film! Personally, I hate when that happens. It’s like, if you’re going to cut a trailer before you even have a final edit on the film, either someone’s time management skills in your post unit are lacking, or you’re marketing waaaaay too early.
The best aspect of the film is the balancing act of comedy and drama displayed from both the filmmaker and the actors. Anna Kendrick is just adorable and stands out as the near perfect girl to Gordon-Levitt’s near perfect guy. Interestingly, every character in the film finds themselves leaning on, or needing to lean on another, even the father plagued by Alzheimer’s can be said to have a moment or two of neediness. The film is really all about loyalty and how to be there for someone (and let someone be there for you) when one is in a time of need. Levine, however, fails to let his main character ever get too far away from his illness (save, one trippy, weed-infused-Macaroon induced interlude), and most of his ordeals seem to gravitate around his need to just not be alone during this horribly scary time in his young life. Fortunately, Levine sees where this obvious romantic storyline could easily and quickly develop to, and diverts it quite well.
The story and the plot will no doubt captivate audiences and win over anyone who has a heart, but honestly, if it wasn’t for the heart-string-tugging subject matter, this film would not be getting all the critical attention it has been since it’s release last weekend. All of the principle actors have been in much funnier and even somewhat heartwarmier films in recent years: Gordon-Levitt in 500 Days of Summer, Kendrick in Up in the Air, and Seth Rogen in Knocked Up, but regardless this is great date movie material and well worth the time and ticket prices in the current market of films this month.