Friday, October 21, 2011

Review: 50/50

I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt!  I’ve been a fan of his since 3rd Rock from the Sun but it was actually with the awful film GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra did I start to realize that he can pretty much play any role given to him.  Along with a choice few others I feel that he is the future of Hollywood.  Since 500 Days of Summer America has finally taken notice of JGL and he’s been getting a lot of big roles lately.  His most recent film is 50/50 and I’m letting it be known right now; if it’s got JGL in it I’m going to try to watch it.  Next year he’ll star in a bike messenger film that looks kind of freaking ridiculous but I’m fairly sure I’ll be there opening weekend nonetheless. 

Directed by Jonathan Levine this film is loosely based on screen writer Will Reiser’s own real life battle with cancer.  As a point of trivia Reiser is very good friends in real life with comedic actor Seth Rogen who pretty much plays a fictional version of himself in this movie.  Rogen also acts as a producer because that’s kind of his thing now, I suppose.  Last time I reviewed a Rogen-related film it ended poorly but does the inclusion of JGL do anything to soften the blow?

Click below for the full review.


JGL could probably also play Lex Luthor
Chew on that for a while
Adam (JGL) is a normal everyday guy with a gorgeous girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), a job he enjoys, and a loyal best friend (Rogen).   He lives a good clean life.   However everything changes when he goes to see a doctor about back pains and then finds out he in fact has cancer.   Further research indicates that he only has a fifty percent chance of beating it.  Adam must now reevaluate everything in his life, including his relationships with his friends and family, and somehow come to terms with his new reality.

If you’ve seen trailers and commercials for this film you’ll note that they focus heavily on Adam and his friend Kyle (Played by Rogen) and sort of implies that the two of them are in this thing together; that as best friends they try both take on the burden of Adam’s cancer as a team.  Well that’s bullshit.  While Kyle does play a fairly important role in the story the fact is that he’s a supporting character only slightly more important than Adam’s parents.  This is ultimately Adam’s story and no one else’s. I assume the reason the commercials made this look like a “Buddy Film” is because Seth Rogen is a much bigger star than JGL (Because the world is unfair) and this was a marketing strategy to trick more people into seeing the flick.  Hell, even some of the bets lines from the commercials didn’t even actually make it into the film itself.  I’m pretty sure whoever set these commercials and trailers up were not the same people to created this film to begin with .

Anyway, as if it needed to be said, JGL kills it as Adam completely nailing the wide spectrum of emotions that the character goes through during his journey.  I thought that if there was any serious problems with this film JGL’s performance likely canceled it out. However I would be slightly surprised if it got attention from the Academy since the character himself wasn’t the most interesting person ever created and thus Levitt’s acting simply can’t be mind blowing in any real way.  Still if you want a definition of a strong performance this is the movie to watch.  Seth Rogen isn’t bad, he’s just once again playing Seth Rogen…in fact almost literally this time since Kyle was based off him supposedly.  I said some harsh things about the guy in my Green Hornet review but I don’t dislike him at all; I just think that he plays the same guy over and over again and that person isn’t a suitable protagonist for a superhero film.  In a movie like 50/50 where he plays a supporting role it works a lot better.  He plays off Levitt pretty well and usually disappears before we get sick of him making him the best type of cinematic sidekick.

Anjelica Huston plays Adam’s mom and she does well in the role.  I think that she’s the type of actress that I easily take for granted since she’s been around for years and does consistently good work.  I like both Bryce Dallas Howard as Adam’s girlfriend Rachel and Anna Kendrick as Adam’s hopelessly unqualified therapist Katie as the former dos a good job of being both sympathetic and horrible while Kendrick is a perfect choice as a hapless way too young shrink.  In fact it’s time to once again objectify women for a second here and update the old “Hottest Women in Hollywood” list.   In fact it’s a rare double update.

#10: Amanda Seyfried
#9: Natalie Portman
#8: Bryce Dallas Howard 
#7: Amy Acker
#6: Reese Witherspoon
#5: Kat Dennings
#4: Anna Kendrick
#3: Anne Hathaway
#2: Ellen Page
#1: Michelle Trachtenberg

A million times easier on the eyes than her old man
Also a million times easier on the eyes than Bryce's dad
Howard is not only a really good actor but she also manages to prove that gingers grow up beautifully and we should probably knock off the jokes.  Also she’s successfully overcome her own tainted genes by becoming as gorgeous as she is (As her father Ron Howard looks like a redheaded Skeletor).  As for Kendrick I’ve seen the young actress in a few films now (Most tellingly Up in the Air and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World) and she’s just so goddamn pretty with a smile tat challenges Anne Hathaway’s.  *Ahem* Moving on…

I really like the script in this film as on top of being pretty clear it feels like a realistic depiction of what it means to get cancer when you’re a young professional like Adam.  The theme of the film appears to be that getting cancer doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world and certainly it doesn’t mean the end of your life.  Life doesn’t have to stop because of it and you can still laugh and grow and love.   Although Adam’s world does end up revolving around the Big C the movie does a great job in establishing that he’s still a person beyond that fact.

The only real problem I ad with this film was that it seems a bit confused as to whether it’s a comedy or a drama. Now it’s billed as a Comedy Drama (Or “Dramedy” as the cool kids say) but it actually feels a bit uneven in that regard.  It mostly seems like it wants to be a drama about a young man who gets cancer but it sometimes has drastic mood shifts to comedy that are abut jarring.  Unsurprisingly almost this happens every scene with Seth Rogen’s character and it kind of sucks.   The movie still works but it would have worked better if they had simply gone for straight drama with instances of humor an lightheartedness as opposed to the genre bender they attempted.

Yeah their relationship gets unprofessional but I don't blame 'em
Either of them.  Growl!
50/50 is one of the best films of the year so far and though I don’t agree with some critics that it’s the single best at this point of the year I do believe it’s the most well done film since last Spring.  The uneven tone is a pretty minor thing.  This is a heartwarming and funny movie that hit kind of close to home for me as I’m not that much younger than Adam and who’s to say that this couldn’t happen to me as well (He said as he held a computer on his lap).  If you’re looking for a movie that’s smart and has something to say this is the one for you.   If you’re a JGL fan like me then it’s your duty to check this flick out as soon as possible.

I give 50/50 4 out of 5 Adorable Pandas.


Pros

-Great cast

-Solid writing

-Good message

Cons

-The tone is a bit uneven


Also a reminder that if you have a Twitter account you can now follow me at JasonBetaMagnus, though to be fair I have little to say.

No comments:

Post a Comment