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Released: 25th November 2011 (UK)

Director: Jonathan Levine

Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen

Certificate: 15 (UK)

Reviewer: Mitch Hansch

“50/50” is a comedy about cancer. Too soon? Nah, not at all. Do it right and you get the critical acclaim of “Terms of Endearment” or “The Big C”, do it wrong and you’ve got Gus Van Sant’s latest “Restless”. The diagnosis has come back- and “50/50” got it right, very right.

The screenplay comes from Will Reiser’s semi-autobiographicical account of a young man in his twenties getting a rare cancer. Reiser’s “50/50” goes about 70/30 with the comedy to drama ratio. Going back to the humor-well as often as it does the jokes can come off more defense mechanism than healing process, but ultimately, the dialogue is so funny and so well delivered by it’s talented cast that all is overlooked.

The young patient with the 15-syllable term for his cancer is Adam, played brilliantly by one of the top young actors today Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, Inception). A play-it-safe type who won’t drive because it’s the fourth leading cause of death. When irony plays its cruel cruel hand, Adam informs his girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard), who you can instantly tell is up for the challenge for t-minus 15 minutes. His best friend and colleague Kyle (Seth Rogen who is also producing) might puke when he hears the news and his smothering mother who is also taking care of altzeimers stricken husband, that is played by Anjelica Huston who could have easily gone cartoonish but doesnt.

Director Jonathan Levine effectively reels us back in by keeping focus that Adam is feeling all the effects of life threatening cancer. When Adam is not getting chemotherapy treatment along with a couple of older men that are wonderfully played by Matt Fewer and the great Phillip Baker Hall, he gets counseled by a 24 year-old Dr. Katherine McKay (Anna Kendrick). Flirtations between the two blur the doctor/patient relationship.

Pretty strong acting from everyone all around. Bryce Dallas Howard is stronger in her later scenes but with this and the huge hit “The Help”, she should be careful not to typecast as the female baddie. Seth Rogen may have the least character growth, but he absolutely nails every punchline, almost redeeming himself from this years “Green Hornet”. Both Gordon-Levitt and Kendrick could get some possible award attention. When Gordon-Levitt finally breaks down you can see what a complete actor he has become and Kendrick is able to show how Katherine is learning on the job about life and death circumstances.

“50/50″ is a hilarious look at heartbreak that has the performances to back it up. The odds of you liking this film are a lot higher than it’s title.

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