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Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen team up to beat the odds in a film that Rolling Stone calls achingly hilarious and heartfelt. Diagnosed with spinal cancer, 27 year old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) navigates the road to recovery with the sometimes overbearing support of his crude best friend (Rogen), his smothering mother (Angelica Huston) and an inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick). Inspired by a true story of writer Will Reiser, 50/50 is an honest yet hysterically funny account of a young man's journey toward healing.
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Still, compelling characters and well constructed. The big problem comes with the happy ending at the end. Almost no one with this (or most any cancer) is knows they are "going to be OK" based on surgery alone, even if no evidence of widespread invasion as the film describes--"bony destruction," etc.. Recovery from the kind of surgery described would have taken many months and left permanent disability. All of this is papered over with a "good news" Hollywood smiley face. As though nothing really happened. Too bad. There was an opportunity to teach as well as entertain in in this film, and it blew it.
50/50" was written by Will Reiser, who was diagnosed with a spinal tumor. Seth Rogen, who plays Adam's best friend, Kyle, is a close friend of Reiser in real life, and the movie is based on what happened in their friendship after the diagnosis. However, the line between fact and fiction is less distinguishable than Will Reiser thought. Will's therapist was in her fifties, Adam's therapist, Anna Kendrick, was his own age. Adam was his therapist's third patient on her way to getting her PhD. Adam had support throughout some of his therapy from a girlfriend, and then she couldn't cope and left. Seth Rogen's character took over as his support and caregiver. Adam' mother, played by Anjelica Houston was smothering as his real lie mother, and it drove him crazy and this was the subject of much of his therapy. However, much of the film is not true life, as Will Reiser tells us.
The business of cancer is not discussed as much as it is shown. The chemotherapy and the after affects, the people you meet during chemo, the relationships you make, the people who die and the people who make it, that is the real stuff. Adam's chemo was not working, so surgery was discussed, and he had a long post surgery recovery. Will Reiser is now 6 years out from his cancer, and he is still in Physical Therapy working on rehabilitating his body.
'Fresh Air' on NPR had a wonderful discussion and interview with Will Reiser and Joseph Gordon Levitt about the film. The interview with Terry Gross was so well done, I wanted to get out of my car and find the film and watch it instantly.
The film lives up to the billing. I loved it! So well, acted and directed, so believable. One my favorite films of the year.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 02-28-12
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