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50/50 | The Clapper Bored


Originally titled ‘I’m With Cancer’ 50/50 is a kind-of-comedy about coming to terms with your mortality and the shittiness of your healthy life. The basic set up sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he of couldn’t-be-trendier-right-now fame (I need to ease up with the hyphens)(and brackets)) get cancer and have to come to terms with that, aided by the support of his best friend Seth Rogen. I’m sure that you’re expecting Rogen to be really sensitive and understated in this sympathetic supporting role but you’ll be shocked to hear that he continues to play the exact same character that he’s played in Knocked Up, Funny People, Zack and Miri…etc.

That said the setup is not at all bad, in fact it’s pretty neat. Bryce Dallas Howard is too obviously a villain from the start which makes the conflict there kind of inevitable and a little bit too boring. Likewise, Anna Kendrick is so obviously sweet and lovely that you know which direction that burgeoning friendship is going in. But the crucial element to 50/50, and one that overpowers the rest, is the sadness. Jesus Christ, this is a depressing film. The crucial last third of the film (and it’s a pretty long film at that) is just misery after unrelenting misery and those with a weak stomach for that sort of emotional ballscrunching might have to look away.

So whilst the drama is handled with a very keen eye (and a very affecting performance from JGL) the comedy suffers as a result. It’s not that it’s not funny, it’s simply that there are barren patches of ten or fifteen minutes where the realization about the weight of the subject seems to sink in and the laughs dry up. Reverence and respect are to be expected but for a film that started life being called ‘I’m With Cancer’, I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed that they went so far with the drama but stopped so short with the comedy. Don’t let that deter you from seeing it though, just expect to be traumatized more than elated after leaving the cinema.

An interesting, touching and personal portrait of a cancer sufferer. Could use more laughs but does better with the drama than many weightier portrayals that have preceded it.

Title: 50/50
Director: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Evil Howard, Angelica Huston.
Certificate: 15
Running Time: Long (for comedy(ish))

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