Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content, and some drug use.
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Director: Jonathan Levine
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston.
Visual: Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC; Video resolution: 1080p; Aspect ratio: 1.78:1; Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Inspired by a true story, 50/50 is an original story about friendship, love, survival and finding humor in unlikely places. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star as best friends whose lives are changed by a cancer diagnosis in this new comedy directed by Jonathan Levine from a script by Will Reiser. 50/50 is the story of a guy’s transformative and, yes, sometimes funny journey to health – drawing its emotional core from Will Reiser’s own experience with cancer and reminding us that friendship and love, no matter what bizarre turns they take, are the greatest healers.
I have written this before and will undoubtedly say it again – the best films are the ones that catch you by surprise; the stories that present as one thing and then deliver something unexpectedly affecting and memorable. Perhaps I am leading with my heart a bit here, however “50/50″ got me early and refused to let go. Never would I have imagined that this little indie about a young guy dealing with cancer, obnoxious buddy in tow, would leave me so moved, appreciative, and battling introspection – relating personal experiences and emotions to those playing out before me on the big screen.
“50/50″ may present as cute and funny and nice, but it is a bold film, one in stark contrast to many of the predecessors who have attempted to tell a similar story. “Cancer Films” or “Terminal Condition Films” all seem to play melodramatic and champion the proud character, staying strong long enough to learn an invaluable life lesson and/or relay some type of teachable moment. Then when the orchestral score floods the soundtrack and those moments are realized, the character always goes peacefully, invariably changing the lives of those close by for better and for always. Will Reiser has no desire to deliver such a mawkish and false sentimental elegy on life and the cinematic beauty of it. Instead, he relies on the loyalties of friendship, loyalties that certainly helped him through his difficult obstacles, and draws on his own underlying fears and sensibilities to drive his story.
I have no idea if there is an audience for this film, but I desperately hope “50/50″ finds one. I have such affinity for the film that I simply want to share “50/50″ with as many people as I can. When the film is funny, it is quotable. When the tone shifts to more emotional elements, it is compelling and riveting. When the characters are stripped down to their emotional core, it is touching and unnervingly honest. In short, “50/50″ is a fantastic film, sublime in virtually every way.
The Story Of 50/50 (7:54): A talking-head style featurette involving Seth Rogen, producer Evan Goldberg, and director Jonathan Levine looks into the true story behind Will Reiser’s cancer diagnosis, as well as how other cast and crew have personally been affected by cancer in their lives.
Life Inspires Art (9:15): Incorporating four different scenes into another featurette that restates how true to life the film is, actors and crew discuss how Will Reiser’s real-life experience with spinal cancer parlayed into scenes and decisions made in the completion of the film.
Seek And Destroy (2:15): The set up, preparation, and ultimate destruction of the painting used in the film, presented top Adam (Gordon-Levitt) by his previous girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard), which Adam ultimately destroys with Kyle (Seth Rogen).
Deleted Scenes (6:17): Five in total, with optional commentary provided by director Jonathan Levine.
Audio Commentary: In a round-table style format, actor Seth Rogen, producers Evan Goldberg and Ben Karlin, screenwriter Will Reiser, and director Jonathan Levine are discuss the film and explain the fact-vs.-fiction of Reiser’s real life story and since all involved are close friends, they are several moments of laughter and inside jokes which prove witty, amusing, and at other times, insightful.
50/50 is a film I love and continue to find great appreciation for in subsequent viewings. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Oscar-nomination worthy performance remains rich and probing and perfectly compliments the jagged and raw supporting turn from Seth Rogen. Anna Kendrick nearly steals the show as a brand new therapist tasked with treating a patient her same age and Anjelica Huston sadly never gained traction for her beautifully honest performance as Adam’s mother, battling through her own set of difficulties with her long-time husband.
50/50 never strikes a false note or a mawkish tone, despite subtly making a commentary about not taking your life for granted, appreciating what you have in life, and making every moment count. Unconventional in how it tells what might otherwise be a formulaic story, 50/50 was sadly overlooked in the 2011 Oscar nominations and could have easily landed a nomination for Will Reiser’s screenplay, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s game changing lead performance and a wonderfully honest and pure supporting turn from Anjelica Huston. There is next to nothing I can say negatively about a film which arrived at a time when several people close to me were fighting and, in two instances, losing their fight against cancer. 50/50 provided perspective and catharsis for me and it is one of my favorite films of recent memory.
SHOULD I RENT IT?!?! – Yes. I ranked this film as my #3 film for 2011.
SHOULD I BUY IT?!?! – Without question…