Sunday, September 4, 2011

50/50 review, Oscar worthy tale about mortality and family

It's a tough thing to blend comedy and drama.  A COMEDY that's too serious?  Not good.   Or a DRAMA that's too funny?   Now you've lost the emotional weight of the film.  So what to make of 50/50?  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a 27 year old man who has just been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.  His best friend is Seth Rogen, who is the bumbling idiot with a lot of heart.  He is seeing a therapist, played by Anna Kendrick, to help him cope with the news.  Rounding out the cast is Dalls Bryce Howard as Godon-Levitt's girlfriend, and the legend, Anjelica Huston as his overly worried mother.   Let's begin.

What I liked about the film:
The Story
Mortality is something I struggle with all the time. Whether I'm questioning religion, health, science, etc. The truth is, we're all going to die. Some of our loved ones are taken too soon, and some live out long and fulfilling lives. No matter the case, we can relate to the death of a loved one. The movie does a great job of showing how everyone involved in Gordon-Levitt's life, reacts to the news.  Some take it well, some don't.  Would you be the friend that cries about the ordeal?  Or would you do what Seth Rogen's character does, and try to use it to your advantage to get girls?  Different people deal with grief in different ways.  The story was a touching one that comes down to mortality and family.

The Friendship
Sort of a sub-category to The Story.  At first, I didn't think the friendship between Gordon-Levitt and Rogen was going to be believable.  Seth Rogen plays the same sort of character we're used to seeing him in.  But there was a lot of heart written into his character.  The two friends genuinely care about each other, and they've been friends since early childhood.  Towards the end of the film, we learn Rogen's character has been reading books to help him understand what his friend is going through.  I thought that was a nice touch that the director could have ruined by making it too cheesy.  Nicely done.

The Cast
Write this down... Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be snubbed of a worthy Oscar nomination this year!  I'm not kidding.  He turns in a heart warming performance that will leave you asking yourself, "have I done enough good with my time on this Earth"?  He's been an amazing actor since he was a little boy, and he just keeps getting better.  I know this role resembles many that Rogen has played, but I loved him.  It was a well balanced performance.

Anna Kendrick as the therapist in the film is terrific.  She's a rookie and Gordon-Levitt is only her third case.  She means well, despite her lack of experience.  She does a great job of showing us the human side of a profession so few know about.  Dallas Bryce Howard is not in the movie for long, but she is does great as the evil girlfriend that chooses not to stick by her man's side while he battles cancer.  Don't worry, I'm not giving anything away, it's explained very early on in the film.  And the wonderful Anjelica Huston.  Wow, I love this woman's acting.  She worries about her only child, to the point she's smothering him.  We see Goron-Levitt being pushed away from his mother because she's smothering him; but what he doesn't realize is, she needs him more than he thinks.  What a great addition to this cast.  Loved her.  Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer play two older gentlemen also dealing with cancer.  They ARE AMAZING!  Their view on life was in great contrast to the young Gordon-Levitt, also dealing with cancer.

What I didn't like about the film:
The climax
I loved the film, don't get me wrong.  But the climax needed some work.  It comes very quickly and with very little notice.  Once it arrives, we don't have time to catch our breath from the emotional ride.  Once the climax is reached, it was like slamming a figurative brake on a roller coaster ride.  Again, nothing to deter you from watching the film, but could have used a tune up.

The Verdict:
50/50 did something that so few movies have in the past.  Balanced comedy and drama in a heart warming story we can all relate to.  It's a poignant and comedic look at mortality; and how death can affect our loved ones.  Jonathan Levine directed a movie that SHOULD be considered for Oscars later this year.  I have my doubts that the Academy will take a risk on a film like this one, but they should.  I hope Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets the recognition he deserves when this movie is released September 30th.  I loved it, and hope you all get a chance to enjoy this film.

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