I finally thought I’d see what all the fuss was about Netflicks so I’m currently using my free months trial. Looks like slim pickin’s to be honest but there a few films on there I wanted to watch on release, didn’t get round to and then forgot they existed. 50/50 from 2011 is one of those films.
I remember seeing the trailer for this and thinking, I really like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan but I can’t see how a cancer comedy could be funny? Surely that’s an oxymoron!! Well that’s what 50/50 is, Gordon Levitt’s character Adam finds out that he has cancer at the age of 26, the story follows how he deals with the disease along with his friends and family. His best friend being Kyle played by Seth Rogan. I really liked these two as a pair, they bounced off each other quite naturally and had some really funny banter between them. It seemed to me that these characters had been friends since childhood, although they worked together they didn’t seem to have that much in common in adulthood – it would have been good to learn more of the background and foundation of their friendship during the film. It was fine without it though as the story concentrated solely on the present, and the stages of Adam’s condition.
Seth Rogan probably plays one of my favourite roles of his in this film. He doesn’t over shadow the lead – he is genuinely funny and less loud and irritating as can sometimes be the case. Rogan is playing the same character he usually does, the funny man who comes across as incredibly selfish but is actually a lovable and loyal friend. I don’t mind though because I really like this character and am happy to watch him do what he does best.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays the role of Adam’s girlfriend Rachael, who when finding out about his cancer is too scared to leave him. She tries to do the right thing but is completely over whelmed. Although I think the audience was supposed to hate Rachael, as Kyle does so vividly, I actually felt sorry for her as she wanted to be a better person but obviously didn’t feel strongly enough for Adam to side line her own life in order to care for him. Understandable really, but she doesn’t go about it in a very classy way. Therefore earning the giant bitch stamp.
Adam’s mother is played by Anjelica Huston. An over-bearing, smothering woman with a kind heart, already taking full time care of Adam’s father (Serge Houde) who suffers with very progressive alzheimer’s. Unfortunately due to her over-bearing nature Adam pushes her away when he is diagnosed, but this makes for a very heart warming scene in the Doctor’s office when he finally lets her in. I really liked this family dynamic, although a very sad state of affairs for the family – the developing relationship between Adam and his Mother, even his Father by the end of the film was very enjoyable to watch and beefed up the story line.
50/50 showed the medical staff in all lights, particularly the side many of us have experienced when the Doctor is dismissive and inhumanly detached. But also the warm kind side in Anna Kendrick’s character Katherine. I loved Kendrick in this film (as usual), she has that quirky charm and witty sarcasm that makes her strangely appealing. As Adam’s therapist in training there are a lot of awkward scenes in the beginning, but as they get to know each other you can see the characters getting rather attached to each other even under such inappropriate, stressful conditions. I really enjoyed Kendrick and Gordon-Levitt’s chemistry together.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt must have been a little apprehensive or at least nervous about playing this role. Get it wrong and the film could be wildly offensive. However he plays the role very sympathetically, and doesn’t over-do the ‘woe is me’ attitude that could be expected from some one in his situation. Adam’s character is funny, lovable and just seemingly normal – a person who is easy to relate to which makes the film hard to watch in places. I shed a tear when Adam has an episode in the car, the bursting anger that came out of Gordon-Levitt in this scene took me completely by surprise. Also before Adam goes in for surgery, you can see the fear in him and his parents which tugs very hard at the heart strings.
If you enjoy Joseph Gordan-Levitt then this is a very indulgent film as he is pretty much in every scene. I’d say it’s light on the comedy, considering the subject matter this works to the films advantage – but it does make you chuckle often. Mainly due to Kenrick and Rogan’s natural wit, and the exchanges between Adam and his dialysis buddy’s in the hospital (including Philip Baker Hall who I recognised as old man Walt from Modern Family). It is also sad and heart breaking at the same time but not so tragic that you will be blubbering the whole way through (i.e. when watching Never Let Me Go, eesh that’s a tear jerker). 60% comedy 20% romantic and 20% depressing! All in all a pretty good film!!
On a side note – is it me or is the film volume on Netflicks very low?! I know my laptop’s volume can go higher than the maximum on the films volume control. At points I could barely hear what Gordon-Levitt was saying. Obviously no trouble with Rogan’s booming voice! But it did make watching uncomfortable as I needed the laptop as close to my face as possible.
Also not impressed with the film selection, it keeps telling me to watch every French movie it has just because I watch Amélie (which you can read my review of here by the way!). I don’t think I will be signing up after my free trial!