Review: 50/50

-Summit Entertainment

So, we generally don’t usually do reviews here at the Red Band Project. However, every once and a while (usually a few times a year) there’s a movie that we just want to make sure everyone knows about that we think would be worth your time to go and see. This weekend that movie would be 50/50. It may not be the most well known Hollywood movie coming out this weekend (and it may not even take the weekend), but it’s definitely one that we recommend you see.

The setup . . . young Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) one day discovers that he has a rare cancer and his odds of living aren’t the greatest. Truth be told he only has 50/50 chance of surviving (hence the film’s title). The movie then takes us through Adam’s struggles with this newfound knowledge and how he deals with it as it relates to his best friend (Seth Rogen), current girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), and his shrink (Anna Kendrick). I don’t want to say too much more than that, but you get the idea; cancer, changed outlook on life, ‘what do you do now’ scenario.

-Summit Entertainment

Perhaps the greatest asset of the film is its phenomenal cast anchored by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL). He really dials in an authentic performance as Adam and you really see him struggle to cope with his diagnosis and treatment. Meanwhile you have Seth Rogen playing Seth Rogen, but with a somewhat (and I use this next term loosely) subdued performance. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still playing the same old guy he is in every movie, but each scene he’s in he holds just enough back to not be annoying and to be the right amount of funny. Bryce Dallas Howard follows up her performance from The Help with another role where you love to hate her as Adam’s “sort of” free spirited girlfriend. Then you have Anna Kendrick who has a solid performance in the same vein as her role from Up in the Air. She plays Adam’s still-in-school psychiatrist who tries to help him through this difficult time, but finds herself a little green and potentially not ready for this challenge.

Usually dramatic comedies (or is it comedic drama?) usually have a hard time striking the right balance between the two. 50/50 though walks right up to that line and walks the tightrope pretty darn well. Many times in the film you’ll find yourself laughing in one scene, then a few minutes later having it tear at your heartstrings. Again, I don’t want to give anything away but there is a scene where it gets dusty in the room. Everything that the characters make you feel seems really genuine and authentic with JGL definitely turning in a fine performance.

In summary, 50/50 is a really great film that you definitely won’t waste your time or your money on. I really hope that JGL gets some kind of Oscar nomination come next year for his performance in this film, but I think that’s highly doubtful (though I think it would be deserved). I’m definitely putting this in my Top 10 films of this year. With such high praise, how can you go wrong?

50/50 opens in a theater near you this Friday, September 30.


50/50 is a somewhat autobiographical account of its screenwriter Will Reiser’s struggle with cancer. Check out this really great story on him from the Los Angeles Times The Big Picture blog.

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