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50/50

Cancer-ahahaha - ★★★★½

The “c” word. No not that one. The BIG C…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, a public radio producer who is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. His chances of survival? The clue is in the title – a sketchy “50/50”. Seth Rogen takes on the role of Kyle, his friend and main support system through the treatment. Bryce Dallas-Howard continues the bitchy schtick she perfected in The Help as Adam’s girlfriend, Anna Kendrick is the straight-of-college therapist and Anjelica Huston plays the mother who is kept firmly at arms length.

The story is based on a true story of a friendship that got a nice shot in the arm after Will Reiser (50/50 screenwriter) was diagnosed with cancer and had an up and coming comedian named Seth Rogen (50/50 co-producer) for support.

A solid cast, a “based on a true story” tag and a trailer which hinted at copious amounts of  laughter and tears. Can it live up to the these impossibly high standards that I’ve unfairly set it?

Absolutely.

Score!

You probably think that cancer wouldn’t be suitable subject matter for a comedy. A disease that tears apart families, kills millions of people a year and is generally spoken of with about as much disdain as things like George W. Bush, S Club Juniors or haemorrhoids.

But there in lies the beauty of 50/50. In placing the ultimate adversity – life and death – as the central theme of your film instead of something like will he get the girl/win the fight/save the world we allowed to get so much more invested in the central character and those around who are affected in their own ways by the cancer.

Everyone involved here in on top of their game and it makes for one of the most emotionally-satisfying and engaging films of the year. We’re not meant to laugh at death or illness and when Hollywood tries to deal with these issues it tends up being crass, insensitive or sickeningly sentimental. Thankfully these guys have shown that doesn’t always have to be the way.

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Nigel

Nigel loves stupid films almost as much as he likes clever films. He'll watch anything but is usually drawn to documentaries, North American independent films, Irish cinema and gung-ho, balls-to-the-walls Hollywood blockbusters. Here's what he's been watching.
 
Comments

So it’s the patented “disease of the week” TV show format, only in the cinema, and funny?

Score indeed.

This comes out in Ireland on January 4th for those of you keeping score.

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