The name of the film comes from when Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) finds out his odds of survival are 50/50 after finding out he has spinal cancer. The film was written by Will Reiser, who was actually diagnosed with spinal cancer in real life, which is what undoubtedly helped it feel so genuine. The focus of the film is to show how cancer can affect more than just the person with it but also the people around them. It does that surprisingly well.
Adam is not risk taker, when the crosswalk blinks do not walk, he stays put, even when no vehicles are to be seen. The 27 year old does not drive because it is the 5th leading cause of death. So it is ironic when after going to the doctor for some minor back symptoms, Adam is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer, rendering his chances of death 50/50.
Adam gets along with his girlfriend well enough but at the same time you can tell that something is missing from that relationship. He does not realize it at first. It is brought to his attention when two fellow treatment patients question the fact she will not even step inside the hospital. However, it becomes even more evident when she does not answer her phone and shows up an hour late for picking him up.
If it were up to his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), Adam would be using his cancer to his advantage for picking up new girls. In fact, Kyle picks up someone at a bookstore by telling her that he is taking care of his dying friend. On their date, Kyle sees Adam’s girlfriend kissing another guy and even snapped a picture on his phone for proof. At the end of the date, Kyle rushes to Adam’s to show him the picture. Needless to say, their relationship came to an end.
Even though Kyle’s repeated attempts to set Adam up with girls have failed, he ends up meeting someone on his own. Turns out it is his 24 year old student therapist that is helping him through treatment. Since he recently broke up with his girlfriend, she offers him a ride home and will not take no for an answer. The first thing he notices about her car is that it is very messy which she insists on him not to judge her for it. The slightly odd scene turns cute when he demands her to pull over so that he can throw away her trash in the car that he could not stand any longer.
Just as things are starting to look up for Adam, one of the patients he got close to passed away. That served as a harsh reminder to him that he may die at any moment. Adam takes his frustrations out on everyone around him; his therapist, Kyle and even his Mom. Up until now he has taken the cancer news fairly lightly so it was only a matter of time until the frustrations settled in.
Not many actors today can make me laugh out loud as much as Seth Rogen does. In most of his films I find myself laughing even when I am watching it by myself (which is the ultimate test), this film was no exception. He did a great job at not dominating the film too much as the supporting actor. Granted, he did play his usual role in the film.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance felt effortless and brilliant. The awkward romantic scenes between Anna Kendrick and him were outstanding. Most of the film he plays it cool but he shows his range of emotions by the end, particularly well in one “freak out” scene. His career is really starting to take off after recently doing, (500) Days of Summer, Inception and now currently working on Christopher Nolan’s long awaited The Dark Knight Rises.
After watching the trailer for 50/50 when it first came out, I jokingly said it had a 50/50 shot at being good. That depended on which way director Jonathan Levine approached the film. Luckily, he balanced the right amount of comedy and drama together in a very realistic manner without all the pitfalls of a stereotypical dramedy. The situations that Adam gets into seem to all be completely natural, it did not suffer from a cheesy movie-like moment. I was kind of hoping “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson played for the final scene instead of Pearl Jam’s “Yellow Ledbetter”, if you saw the film you know why.