What Are The Odds? Cancer…and Comedy?

50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anna Kendrick, and more, tells the powerful story based on the events in screenplay writer Will Reiser’s life upon being diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of 27. Coming from the film’s official website, see Rogen’s words on how the film about these events came to take place:

We worked with Will on Da Ali G show, and it was shortly after that we learned he was sick. As shocking, sad, confusing, and generally screwed up as it was, we couldn’t ignore that because we were so ill-equipped to deal with the situation, funny things kept happening. Will got better, and when he did, we thought the best way to pull something good out of the situation was to get him to write a screenplay. Ideally we wanted to make a film that would be as funny, sad, and hopefully as honest as the experience we went through. As soon as the script was completed, it quickly became a passion project for all of us. It helped us come to terms with Will’s struggle as well as our own experiences.

The seemingly offsetting blend of cancer and comedy surprisingly works very well for the would-be taboo mix. Although, sometimes, it could be considered a cruel mix in the fact that there are times during which the scene will call for laughter but the dynamic of the scene very quickly changes to a moment of sadness. But, so is life too. There were moments that I laughed so much in this film. And, yes, there were moments that tears came to my eyes. Here’s what makes 50/50 a movie worthy of your time:

1. An amazingly ensembled cast.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the Hollywood King Midas in that all he touches seems to be gold right now, and with the wide variance of roles in which he has done he has learned how to portray emotion so well on the screen…much like, dare I say it, Denzel Washington! This young man carries the film as the character Adam Lerner who is dealing with the unexpected news of the invasion of a tumor along his spinal column.

Seth Rogen, while I am usually not a fan of his work, is in a role that far exceeds that of Funny People, Knocked Up, and Green Hornet, and provides much of the lightheartedness and comedy in the film as the best friend, Kyle. You’d swear that Rogen and Levitt are best friends in real life!! Although this role is quite reminiscent of other Rogen roles in the past, the passion that Rogen felt for this project can be seen through his amazing and natural performance as the helpless friend who does all he can still to try to help by ignoring the problem and accepting the advantages of it instead.

Bryce Dallas Howard. Ah, the self-centered girlfriend. This is a recurring role that Howard seems to be comfortable in…a character that audiences find easily to despise. Her efforts as such on the screen are to be merited.

Other supporting cast: Anna Kendrick is stunning and absolutely perfect as the awkward, inexperienced yet learning, psychiatrist/therapist to whom Adam is assigned. (See her talk about her role and part of her scenes in this quick video/interview from ReelzChannel)

Angelica Huston plays as Adam’s overbearing and loving mother exquisitely well. And all other cast members easily became a part of the story without detracting from or adding to it unnecessarily.

2. The emphatic and realistic portrayal of events.

The absolute most impressive aspect of this film is how real and natural everything felt. From the way the shock of the news of cancer is portrayed, to the different stages that Adam goes through (denial, anger, etc), to the laughs and jokes that are throughout, audience members may begin to feel that Adam is their friend too! And, likewise, care for him and all things surrounding him. It is because of this that the film excels and becomes more of a true story instead of just an attempt at telling a true story.

The film grabs on to the human emotions and fully explores them so that, from beyond the screen, the audience can share in on what is happening on the screen. An amazing and appropriate conveyance of a heart-felt story. 50/50 is the first full-feature film that Will Reiser has written…and while very personal, I see it as proof that he has what it takes to write more great films. I hope that he does.

3. An impressive blend of comedy, cancer, crying, and clichés.

No need to really expound on this point, but let me say that the clichés that exist are perfectly acceptable and make the story what it should be. Sometimes clichés are a good thing, and in this case, it definitely works. The film is what it is…An impressive blend of comedy, cancer, crying, and clichés. (But definitely more comedy than anything else).

I oftentimes found myself sympathizing with Adam and allowing myself to become attached to the characters. It is a surprisingly gripping and fantastic way to tell the story of a cancer survivor. While only a few scenes seemed to be cut-and-pasted together, the majority of it flows so well, that it works.

I recommend seeing this film! But please heed the advisory. When it comes to parental advisory, 50/50 is rated R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use. So! It’s not for all ages!

So, what are the odds that you will go see this one? what are the odds that you will like it too? Better be higher than 50/50! I’ll bet you will cry!

Thanks for reading!

Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy Watching!

TheScarletSp1der’s Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars for “50/50


  1. I am hoping that this film is going to be an honest portrayal, and reading the history behind the writer, I’m confident it will be. I want to see it. That said, it may be some time before I do.


  2. Was one of my favourite films of last year. I have no real situation to compare this film to, but it felt real. It felt plausible. What JGL’s character goes through himself is pretty intense but it’s all handled so well in the film. Loved it.


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