It Takes a Pair to Beat the Odds – 50/50 Review

To us CityGirls, October has always been known as Rocktober, full of fall concerts and Ashley’s rockin’ birthday. But more importantly, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and there are tons of events all through the city in support of Breast Cancer research, including the CIBC’s Run for the Cure (which took place this past Sunday), The Booby Ball (October 14) and Eat to the Beat (October 18).

Though not exactly breast cancer related, this past weekend was also the opening weekend for the movie 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as 27-year-old Adam who is diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. With the help of his best friend (Seth Rogen), his mother (Angelica Houston), and a young therapist at the cancer center (Anna Kendrick), Adam learns what and who the most important things in his life are.

Almost everyone has known someone affected by this disease in one way or another and knows how trying, frustrating and scary the entire process can be. They don’t sugar coat it in the film, it’s not a pretty sight, but it does a good job of exploring how each character tries to come to terms with the situation and how each person deals with it in their own way. Seeing it play out on screen, while emotional, can also be somewhat therapeutic and in a way, acts as a subtle reminder to the viewer to pay attention to those things most important in their life as well.

Gordon-Levitt is the new it guy these days. He’s been in big blockbuster movies (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises), more indie films (Brick, 500 Days of Summer) and he’s created his own hipster collaborative production company online and still manages to throw himself 100% into everything he does. His performance in the movies speaks for itself, the raw emotion during some of the more intense scenes seems to come from somewhere deep down and watching him break on screen is enough to make your heart break for him or break for anyone you know who has been in his position.

The biggest concern going into the movie was Rogen. We’ve said it time and time again, we just cannot see past Seth Rogen in any role he plays. It’s always the same character, the same kind of jokes, the same approach to roles. It was concerning to see how that stereotypical character would play into this story, but by the end of the film you have a hard time imagining anyone else in that role. In fact, Rogen is exactly the kind of person anyone should want by their side while dealing with something like this. Not only was he severely loyal and supportive, his inappropriate humour is the kind of distraction you need to lighten the mood and keep things in balance.

** Just a little spoiler warning for those of you who want to avoid knowing how the movie plays out**

The film was written by Will Reiser and is based on Reiser’s own battle with cancer in his early 20’s. Close friend Rogen helped him cope with his disease and later convinced him to write the screenplay. The character Rogen plays in the movie is based on his own role in Reiser’s life and many scenes in the movie are based on actual events, including the scene where Rogen applies medicine and jokingly plays around with Adam’s back wound. This personal aspect to the film is what makes it worth seeing. Not to mention, creates a whole new level of respect for Rogen.

** End Spoiler **

It’s not a light hearted movie, but it is laced with laugh out loud and uplifting moments which makes for a pretty well rounded, moving film – something you don’t really find all that often anymore.

images from google images