Written by Will Reiser who based the film on his own experiences fighting cancer, Jonathan Levine's poignant comedy 50/50 stars Joseph Gordonn-Levitt as Adam, a 27-year-old public-radio employee who discovers he has cancer. As his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) tries to help out, his girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) proves to be a less than ideal life partner for this particular crisis. All the while, Adam's overprotective mother Diane (Anjelica Huston) tries to overcome her son's continued attempts to keep her out of his life. As Adam begins to discover how hard it is to deal with his situation, and to maintain various relationships in his life, he begins seeing a young counselor (Anna Kendrick) who might prove to be just as helpful personally as she is professionally. Matt Frewer and Philip Baker Hall co-star as Adam's fellow chemotherapy patients.~Perry Seibert
Audio commentary with Seth Rogen, director Jonathan Levine, and writer Will Reiser
You’re in a job you like, in denial about your struggling relationship, and you’re not particularly close to your parents as your father is suffering from Alzheimer’s and your mother is so much more emotional than you are that it’s difficult to carry on a conversation with her. Then you get the news that changes your whole life. Is that the makings of a comedy? Will Reiser thought so and it’s inspired by his life.
Adam Lerner (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a producer for public television whose live-in girlfriend Rachael (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) is a struggling artist. While they were not talking about it, it appears a break-up is inevitable. Adam’s best friend Kyle (played by Seth Rogen) is urging him towards the door but Adam is unconvinced. Then, during a doctor’s appointment he made to resolve back pains that wouldn’t go away, he’s given the news. He has a tumor on his spine and if he doesn’t subject himself to chemotherapy and then surgery, he’ll die. Kyle (Rogen) is determined to keep his friend in a positive mindset. Rachael (Howard) is given an out but doesn’t take it and decides, instead, to remain with Adam and is supportive, at least at first. Meanwhile, his insurance also covers visits to a psychologist. That ends up being something of a double-edged sword as the in-house psychologist, Katherine McKay (played by Anna Kendrick), is very inexperienced.
This is the second film in just over two years to feature a comedic take on a serious illness and Seth Rogen in a significant role. The first being 2009’s Funny People with Adam Sandler. Having seen both, I can say unequivocally that 50/50 is not just a better film, but a great film. There are solid performances from all the cast, an interesting story and a satisfying conclusion that doesn’t appear too good to be true. See this immediately.