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50/50

Hooray! A cancer comedy! I’ve been waiting! On the other hand…didn’t I go through this with Adam Sandler in his 2009 release, “Funny People”? Or was that not really cancer, I forget. No matter—you get the idea. It’s a very small niche. Apparently based on the real life story of Will Reiser, cousin of comedian/actor Paul Reiser, my first question is this—does he really not drive? Because if he does, I despise that writer’s invention quirk that he gives Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character(Adam)that seems to be designed solely to get him waiting for rides throughout the film. If he doesn’t drive…I’ll give him a pass. Barely.        I like Gordon-Levitt. He chooses his projects well. For every “Inception” or “The Dark Knight Rises”, there is a “Hesher” or “Mysterious Skin”. Those films not only vary in quality, but they are a pretty eclectic bunch thematically. There are more blockbusters on the horizon for Joe, but I hope he doesn’t ignore his character work in the smaller stuff. His instincts as an actor are very good.      “50/50”, no pun intended, is a mixed bag. It has a somewhat forced feel that grates at times. There are some overly-cutesy moments that scream B.S. And is there EVER a shred of doubt as to where the Levitt-Kendrick situation is going? But then there are the chemotherapy sessions with the wonderful Phillip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer. And the powerful bits as the surgery date(for Adam’s worsening cancer) approaches. And then there is Seth Rogen. It took me a few years with Seth, but he officially had me with “Observe and Report”(that pitch-black comedy improves every time I see it). Make no mistake…Rogen has one function: make the cancer comedy FUNNY. And he performs his duties well. “He’s got, like, level 4 back cancer”…in classic Rogen delivery. I’m not sold yet on Ron Howard’s kid(Bryce Dallas Howard), not the least of which because she’s Ron Howard’s kid. Her two big roles this year were the love-to-hate-her girlfriend here and her over-the-top gargoyle in “The Help”. Her histrionics in both films and her decidedly easy road to stardom do not place her near to my heart. Plus, did I mention her dad is Ron Howard? And Anna Kendrick continues to grow on me…but she needs to get out of her comfort zone.     The writing is just sharp enough and the performances just good enough to make this fly. It doesn’t approach the canny sting of the first hour of “Funny People”(sorry to sight that film again—remember, small niche). Of course, it’s easy to call them very different films. Then I remember that the actor playing the character that helps Adam Sandler through his health crisis is…Seth Rogen. And suddenly they don’t seem so different at all. As a matter of fact, give ’em both a gander.      Grade:   B-   

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2 comments on “50/50

  1. Matt Frewer? I’m sold!

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