Movie review: Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt equally matched in 50/50
If you’re gonna get sick, better have a fast-talking cut-up at your side to help you through those tough moments with a little laughter.
And that cut-up should be Seth Rogen. I mean, who wouldn't want this lovable hipster cracking jokes before and after each painful chemotherapy session? We would!
Seth Rogen plays Kyle. He's best friends with Adam, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in the new film 50/50. Usually, Seth Rogen plays the main character, the guy with the problem, as seen in films like Knocked Up, The Green Hornet and Pineapple Express. He's typically the one who needs help from his best friend -– who is usually more dysfunctional and lost than he is -– to help him find the way. But this time, it's the other way around.
Kyle is the bestie. And Adam is the one with the problem. He has cancer. Very advanced back cancer. And he's only 27.
The story takes place in the chilly Northwest. These two characters work together at a local public radio station. They're best friends, but total opposites. Adam is an anal-retentive risk adverse good guy, who doesn't smoke, drink, drive or do anything dishonest, except occasionally field calls from his over protective mother, played by Anjelica Huston.
Rogen's character Kyle, on the other hand, is a loud, obnoxious, pot-smoking freeloader who likes trolling bars for chicks. These two make a good pair, however odd it might be. And, when things get rough -- and they often do with advanced cancer -- Kyle is there to bring the laughs that Adam most undoubtedly needs.
The audience needs them, as well, as this is an emotional journey through the rise and fall of not only an illness, but a friendship, too. We see these two guys get along, then get on each other's nerves, then have a fight, then make up, then hang out and start all over again. Like any relationship, a friendship needs care. But the question is how much care can you give when you're going through a crisis? A crisis like dying of cancer. The answer: As much as you can, apparently, because like anything in life, a relationship is a balance of give and take.
It certainly is for these guys, and why wouldn't it be? Just because they are men doesn't mean they can't love each other like brothers. You know what I mean. 50/50 is essentially what many people might call a bromance (that's brother-romantic – the new kind of love story Hollywood's been getting cozy with since films like I Love You, Man, Superbad and Wedding Crashers came onto the scene). 50/50 has heart. It has emotion. It deals with mother-son relationships and last wishes and falling in love.
Rogen and Gordon-Levitt have good chemistry together, and we believe that they are the very best of friends. The comedy is good, but not over-the-top. Hard core fans of Rogen will delight in seeing him give a great performance but may be disappointed that the laughs are sometimes more bittersweet than downright hilarious.
The supporting cast includes Bryce Dallas Howard, the gorgeous, but love-to-hate girlfriend who feels "bad" about breaking up with a guy with cancer. Not that bad, mind you. She's delightfully fun as the inevitable she-villain.
Opposite Dallas Howard is an honest performance from Up in the Air's Anna Kendrick, who plays the therapist to Gordon-Levitt's character. She's precise, sincere and totally cute. The audience will root for her and soon become frustrated with him when he struggles to do anything about it.
At the heart of the story, a man dying of cancer belongs with one of these ladies, if only he can make that choice while his life is falling apart. But if that's the situation you're in, who better to turn to for help than your best friend? And, his bestie is there for him, even when the audience thinks the slacker has given up.
The lesson these two ultimately have to learn is that no matter how rough life is, you can't take your buddies for granted. Friendship should always be a game of equal odds.
BOTTOM LINE: Honest, real and funny, 50/50 is a charming bromance with a whole lot of heart.
Photos courtesy of Summit Entertainment