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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Seth Rogen
Anna Kendrick
Bryce Dallas Howard
Anjelica Huston.
Directors
Jonathan Levine.
Screenwriters
Will Reiser.
Running Time
99 minutes

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50/50
As serious as cancer (rhythm is a dancer)


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Plot
Adam (Gordon-Levitt) discovers he has a rare form of cancer with 50/50 odds of survival. His girlfriend Rachael (Dallas Howard) vows to support him but struggles with the consequences while pal Kyle (Rogen) concentrates on trying to get Adam laid.


Review
50/50
The phrase 'cancer comedy’ hardly sounds inviting, but how about these words: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, Judd Apatow-style humour? Writer Will Reiser has managed to turn his own cancer story into a bromantic comedy-drama with character-driven wit and bawdy trimmings. All this without losing the heart of an ultimately touching story.

As quiet, shellshocked neatfreak Adam, Gordon-Levitt is a fitting replacement for original choice James McAvoy and a spot-on straight man for Rogen’s bolshie best mate, Kyle. This is Rogen on typical crude, blundering, weed-smoking form — familiar, yes, but in a crucially different context. This Rogen isn’t a buddy trying to escape comedy criminals or make a porno — he’s trying to get his head around the fact that his mate might die. His natural recourse is wit and partying, but later scenes hint at a more sensitive side that just about saves the day. And when you discover that he played this role for real to screenwriter Reisner, you wonder how much he’s acting at all.

As Adam’s inexperienced therapist, Up In The Air’s Kendrick brings elements of the precociousness and insecurity that landed her an Oscar nom and provides a welcome contrast to Bryce Dallas Howard’s vilified Rachael. Rachael is treated with utter derision, even when she is trying — if vainly — to do the right thing. 50/50 rightly attempts to explore the effects of cancer diagnoses on friends and family but leaves balance behind when it comes to a character whose perspective could have been at least partly sympathetic. Anjelica Huston’s funny, fussy mother is treated with a more forgiving tone and leads to one of the most emotional scenes in the whole shebang, even if her first reaction doesn’t ring true (wouldn’t she ask what kind of cancer her son had?).

50/50 is a boys’ club at heart: Adam even forms a blokeish bond with two older cancer patients played beautifully by Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer. As with Rogen, their banter provides relief from the heavy subject-matter while the tragic truth is still written in their pale, chemo-ravaged faces.

With its emphasis on comedy, this skims over the more gruelling aspects of the disease but doesn’t rose-tint them like a sentimental TV movie. 50/50 throws in just enough detail to be believable and moving while remaining the right side of funny.


Verdict
Whether you're after a comedy-drama about cancer or a Rogen laugh-fest with added heart, this does a remarkable job of balancing the odds. And the laughter/tears split? Call it 70/30.


Reviewed by Adam Smith

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for 50/50
Empire Star Rating

Seth Rogen on a Drama??? More and less...

How many drama movies about cancer treatment, with suffering performances and a true story of overcoming have been made and even became tiresome way? Well, the young director Jonathan Levine and Will Reiser (screenplay) found a formidable new vision of it all. The film tells the story of Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young man of twenty-seven years working for a radio company in Seattle. He is informed that he has a rare form of cancer called “Neurofibrosarcoma”, and is told he o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ralph25 at 22:38, 27 April 2013 | Report This Post


It may contain some comedy gold and some touchy moments but overall 50/50 fails to capture the realism of the actions in this film which is still entertaining, but mistaken. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by samzucca at 16:43, 15 April 2013 | Report This Post


Funny People Can Go Fuck Itself

Seriously, it can. When I saw Funny People for the first time, I spent the whole film confused as to whether it was a schmaltzy, tearjerking drama, or a worryingly confused teen comedy. As a result, it worked on neither level. However, with 50/50, the formula has been perfected. An effortless balance between drama and comedy is established in the early scenes, and, thankfully, the story is one of a heart-warming nature. In terms of the hit-and-miss ratio, as a comedy, it's probably the best I've... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 02:05, 13 March 2012 | Report This Post


FUNNY

Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Seth Rogen are very funny ! And i just love is movie ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by soulfood at 22:46, 17 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Extremely moving

Well its easily the funniest film about cancer I've seen. A good effort and solid performances from both leads. Possibly the first Seth Rogen film I've actually enjoyed. Could've done with a few more gags and a stronger/less schmaltzy ending. b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Spaldron at 07:13, 16 December 2011 | Report This Post


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