TCFF Day 2: 50/50 Mini Review

Directed by Jonathan Levine
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick
Running Time 99 Minutes, Rated R.

From the moment I saw this on the TCFF schedule, I knew I had to see it. I really think Joseph Gordon-Levitt is truly one of the brightest young actors working today, hence my inclusion in this list. I think he’s grown so much as an actor and certainly has come a loooong way since NBC’s Third Rock from the Sun! Anna Kendrick was supposed to hold a Q & A after the film, but unfortunately she had a filming commitment so she had to bail 😦

I was uncertain at first just how could they make cancer funny, but the beauty is in the writing and the way writer Will Reiser and director Jonathan Levine crafted this character-driven dramedy. Levitt is such a natural actor, there’s an effortless-ness to his acting which is wonderful to see. But the supporting cast are great as well, besides Anna Kendrick as Levitt’s young therapist, I also got a kick out of Anjelica Huston’s performance as the overbearing yet endearing mother of Levitt’s character. I can’t deny there are too much crude language for my liking, but at least for the most part it wasn’t in a mean-spirited kind of manner. The theme of friendship between Seth Rogen and Levitt’s characters is what drives the story, and there is a genuine chemistry between the two that was wonderful and heartwarming to watch (yes, despite a lot of Rogen’s questionable behaviors).

I’m going to borrow an excerpt from my friend and fellow MN movie blogger Mitch Hansch from MoviesWithMitch.com whom I had the pleasure of hanging out with before the film started.

Reiser’s 50/50 goes about 70/30 with the comedy to drama ratio.  Going back to the humor-well as often as it does the jokes can come off more defense mechanism than healing process, but ultimately, the dialogue is so funny and so well delivered by it’s talented cast that all is overlooked.

Director Jonathan Levine effectively reels us back in by keeping focus that Adam is feeling all the effects of life threatening cancer.  When Adam is not getting chemotherapy treatment along with a couple of older men that are wonderfully played by Matt Fewer and the great Phillip Baker Hall, he gets counseled by a 24 year-old Dr. Katherine McKay (Anna Kendrick).  Flirtations between the two blur the doctor/patient relationship.

50/50 is a hilarious look at heartbreak that has the performances to back it up.  The odds of you liking this film are a lot higher than it’s title.

MITCHNIFFICANT- a must see in the theatre


Has anybody seen this film? I’d love to hear what you think.

31 thoughts on “TCFF Day 2: 50/50 Mini Review

  1. You must be having so fun Ruth!

    I love JGL with that affection I have for everyone connected with Inception…for some reason that’s one of those where I follow the entire cast’s careers now…but i don’t know if i can take this, even with a 70/30 comedy-drama ratio. I’ve lost several of my family members, including my mother, to cancer, I hate crying in public, and I just don’t know. Your review makes me want to give it a shot though 🙂

    PS: i think Rogen has it in his contracts that he has to do questionable stuff in every picture he’s in LOL

    1. JGL is just great, though he’s not my fave character in Inception, now that’d be Tom Hardy 😀

      I totally understand it’d be very tough to watch if the subject matter hits too close to home. I’m so sorry to hear you lost your mom to cancer, Paula. My mom died when I was 16 too, but of liver failure. I don’t think I know anybody in my family who had cancer, it’s interesting that cancer isn’t as common in my country for some reason.

      I think you’re right about Rogen, that’s why I don’t watch his films unless there is someone else who’s the main draw.

      1. thanks Ruth. I am sorry for your loss at such a young age. i have my own ideas about why cancer is so prevalent here & not in other places, but that would be another post on another blog 🙂

        as you know LOL Hardy is my fave too. They all played off each other so well though. i half-wish they would make an Inception sequel. Sequels have a tendency to stink though…not all the time, but enough of the time.

  2. Prairiegirl

    I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for good comedies, so despite the not-so-funny theme, this will go on my list to see for sure. Probably not at the theater (sorry, Mitch ;-( but in DVD queue, certainly.

    1. That’s odd, well I’ve changed it Becky. I think you’ll enjoy this one, I laughed a lot during the film. Even Rogen’s shenanigans were pretty funny in this context.

  3. Great review Ruth! Sounds like you’re having a good time at the festival. I have had my eye on this one since I saw the poster – the two leads are a major draw because they’re both fabulously talented. I also like Anna Kendrick.

    1. Yeah it’s been fun, today I’ll be in a roundtable interview w/ Anton Yelchin so I’m excited (and nervous) about that! If you love the cast I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed with this movie, they all did a great job.

  4. I have been waiting to see this one Ruth and am glad to see a high rating for it! I expected there to be a good blend between comedy and drama. Glad to know it is there! Thanks for the write up!

  5. Louise

    This is one film I’m hoping to catch at the London Film Festival. I’m always unsure of comedies about tragedy but if done well think it can be good. I do have high hopes and your review is confirming those hopes.

  6. This sounds interesting. You don’t usually have mainstream Hollywood productions dealing with Cancer. There was a great film a few years ago with Emma Thompson called Wit which handled it beautifully. Good review.

  7. I really enjoyed this one and thought that JGL did a wonderful job of acting the various stages of grief that one goes through. All the characters seemed believable to me, which was surprising for a comedy.

  8. Glad to hear you enjoyed this, Ruth. I saw it over the weekend and absolutely loved it. It’s rare that a movie can tug on the ol’ heartstrings and create laughter at the same time.

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