This dramedy from writer Will Reiser explores his own battle with cancer and the impact it had on his life. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, Reiser’s film alter ego, and Seth Rogen schlumps along for the ride as Adam’s best friend who struggles to bolster his friend’s spirits and come to terms with the situation for himself. While the trailers have played the scenario for laughs, 50/50brings very human vulnerability and frailty to a younger generation used to only a virtual sense of these ideas at best.
Gordon-Levitt’s character is an extension of the wandering love-struck hopeful in (500) Days of Summer, except this time this guy has grown up and come face to face with an obstacle far more daunting than bad or good timing in a relationship. This is life or death, and yet he struggles — as seemingly everyone of this new full-on, slacked-out generation — to develop the necessary raging passion to fight for life.
But when the moment arrives, it’s easier to believe in him than merely beautiful lovers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway) in Love & Other Drugs because, in the end, 50/50is actually even more adult than Up in the Air thanks to its refusal to magically save Adam. His odds might be 50/50, and this might be a mix of comedy and drama, but Reiser, Gordon-Levitt and Rogen never forget that because we’re human, we’re only staving off the inevitable, so whether we’ve got 500 days or less, we should to get to living and enjoying them. Grade: B+