Tag Archives: odds

With the odds stacked against it, I was happily surprised (50/50 – 2011)

An excellent buddy film, enjoyably comedic with seriousness becoming of such a dark topic.  Recommended to all age-appropriate audiences.

To my adoring public:

Okay, despite my grotesque amount of soon-to-be-due homework, I decided to go out and see a movie this morning.  That’s right, I love you webizens so much that I’m willing to sacrifice my education so that you can remain an informed movie-going public.  Well, that and I really wanted to see something.  So it was a toss-up between Moneyball and 50/50. 

Now, I had originally planned on seeing Moneyball.  It looks excellent and I’ve never had much faith in Seth Rogen.  However, on the way to the movie theatre, I had a change of heart.  I decided that I had at least ought to make the attempt to remain current, so I chose this week’s major release.  Ergo, today we’re looking at 50/50.

Now, a brief point before I begin, I’m moving away from the good-bad-ugly format.  It seems too rote for art and thereby limiting the message I can convey or forcing me to make points where I don’t feel they’re relevant.  So we’re just going to roll through this thing freely.  Let’s get started:

The best place to start is where I had the least faith.  Seth Rogen plays a surprisingly enjoyable character, Adam’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) friend, Kyle.  Despite being a repeat of the obnoxious frat boy we’re accustomed to, the character grows more appreciably serious towards the end.  The exemplary friend, though thickly veiled by the boisterous exterior, is both alluded to and later evidenced by the way he deals with the final moments preceding and following Adam’s surgery.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, though not as enjoyable as his role in Inception, performed well in his character, Adam Lerner.  Acting as a real cancer patient cycling through periods of numbness, anger, and depression, he puts up a believable face in spite of the heavy comedic influences.  Standing out firmly from the rest of the film is the scene in which Adam has a nervous breakdown in Kyle’s car.  Gordon-Levitt thrashes about a bit, but makes the scene truly memorable with an incredibly startling and primal scream. 

The plot of this film (cue Tom’s rant on the writing) was actually excellent.  I went in without expecting much and was taken aback by how enjoyable and true the character development seemed to be.  With Adam progressing through the stages of grief, a young psychiatrist learning her technique, and the friends and family attempting to cope (in many different ways) with the possibility of losing Adam to cancer, it’s both a simple and implicitly complex tale.  Still, it easily wraps itself up at the end, leaving only a few unanswered questions, those these are easily dismissed for what we’re shown.

That’s not to say that this film was perfect.  The blossoming of the relationship between Adam and his psychiatrist, Katie (Anna Kendrick), seems unlikely and added only for the movie to end on a more enjoyable note.  Scenes with the cheating ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard), are grossly foreshadowing their impending break-up and then over-the-top in Adam’s cathartic revenge.

However, despite it’s minor problems, the film did well.  Something as off as old men eating cookies laced with marijuana, though at first seeming uninspired, actually goes on to surprise as one of their deaths proves a major  emotional turning point for Adam.  This reality mixed with the fantasy go on to give the film a great balance and leads me to recommend 50/50 to anybody who enjoys dark comedies and playful dramas.

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