50/50 is a dark drama/comedy loosely based on the true story of Will Reiser, who was diagnosed with cancer in his late 20s.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays the Reiser-based character, Adam: a completely healthy, very cautious man who is diagnosed at age 27. His diagnosis isn’t the last of his problems. As he begins to undergo treatment, his entire life crumbles around him.
Seth Rogen costars as Kyle, Adam’s well-meaning but profane best friend.
Gordon-Levitt gives a fantastic performance here, which made 50/50 one of my favorite films of 2011. He captures the confusion and numbness that follows such a heavy diagnosis perfectly.
The supporting cast is equally well-selected. Their roles allow us to see the diagnosis from the perspective of the family and friends of the patient. With a lesser-capable cast, this wouldn’t have been carried off very well. The characters could have easily faded into the background and gone unnoticed due to the strong subject matter. Anjelica Huston in particular stops this from happening, with her very emotional performance as Adam’s mother.
While Rogen’s character is much like every other slacker/pothead he’s portrayed, Reiser does give him a hidden element of humanity and empathy that is often absent in his performances. Reiser’s script succeeds in making this one of Rogen’s best performances and most likable characters by the end of the film.
The one casting flaw here is Anna Kendrick, who is better than usual but still pretty flat in her role as Adam’s young therapist. Luckily, her role doesn’t throw the film completely off track. She’s tolerable.
50/50 is available at most Redbox locations. Find your nearest copy at the Redbox website.