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As someone who was diagnosed with cancer two years ago (non-small cell
lung cancer--and a nonsmoker to boot!) I've been through the gantlet,
from 4 different kinds of chemo, several surgeries, and a wide variety
of medical care from indifferent to deeply caring. So, trust me when I
tell you, that this movie gets it.
It gets what it is like to receive a horrific diagnosis out of the blue, the numbness and shock of dealing with it, the well meaning friends and acquaintances who say the stupidest things ("every time I feel sorry for myself, I just think of you..."), and those friends who really become your rock as you go through the miasma of treatment and try to still make your life have meaning. Again, this movie gets it.
Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen deserve high praise for the honesty that they bring to their performances. There was not a false note anywhere. The rest of the cast is terrific as well. I plan to see it again when it is released in a month.
This is a quiet film but it packs a great deal of power. I thought the humor was wonderfully placed, because without humor, life with cancer is unbearable. As too many folks know so well. Go see it and be entertained and learn a bit and rejoice in life even with cancer.
Just saw this at an Advanced Screening 2 hours ago in Huntington Beach
This film doesn't have a title nailed down yet. It used to be called I'm with Cancer but IMDb has it listed as Live With It. The title we were shown in the film and the title that was on the invite was Get Well Soon. They asked us our opinion of the titles (Also include was the title Bright Side) but no one really liked any of the titles. So for the sake of confusion I'll call it Get Well Soon.
Get Well Soon is the very believable story of Adam, a 27 year old nice guy who waits at cross walks at 5:30 in the morning when nobody is on the road and other joggers have already trotted past. Adam writes stories for radio programs and seems to genuinely care about the stories and the people who are listening to them. After persistent back pain, Adam goes to the doctor and is diagnosed with Cancer. He is assigned Katherine, a doctorate student who is getting experience for her dissertation, to talk to about his new problems.
This film will immediately draw comparisons to 2009's Funny People which unfortunately can't be ignored. But fortunately, aside from the fact the main character is diagnosed with a terminal illness, this is a completely different film. Where Funny People had a lack of connection with its main character, due to Adam Sandler being a prick to everyone and being rich on top of that, Get Well Soon's Joseph Gordon Levitt is the everyman that everyone can relate to. He does a fantastic job expressing the feelings of calm fortitude as well as isolation. You can see it in his face. It's the little things that make a film feel authentic. Levitt's performance is heart breaking and uplifting at the same time. He maintains a steady calm for most of the film that just feels real. You know this is a dark comedy when there is a Patrick Swayze joke in the first 20 minutes of the movie. I'm not sure if that one's gonna stay in the final cut though lol. This film is very funny throughout. All of the people in the after film focus group said it maintained a perfect balance of comedy and dramatics. I saw Love and Other Drugs and liked it but this film is much more streamlined and has no extraneous scenes.
Seth Rogen is absolutely hilarious. I'll be the first to get my opinion out that Rogen is great in everything he's in but he really killed it again. Weed smoking is given a fantastic treatment by this film, like director Jonathon Levine's previous work the very amusing The Wackness. There are two scenes that are a creative and effective way to show the effects of marijuana. I love the way they shot a conversation between Adam, Rogen and two of Adam's older cancer friends. Anna Kendrick plays a similar role to the one she played in Up in the Air. She does a great job in this too. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam's girlfriend and Angelica Huston is his over bearing mother.
I rated this film an "Excellent" which is the highest possible rating and which 18 of the 30 people who stayed after agreed with. 11 said "Very Good" and 1 said "Good." I really enjoyed the film. It didn't really do anything wrong. It might have a bit too much profanity for the older crowd but its central story is so appealing. On that note actually, there were several people who said they would not have come to the screening if they knew full well that it was about cancer. I feel that is so extremely narrow minded that no one should even admit that to a group of people. Please if you are on the fence and "don't want to go to a depressing movie" get over it and see a fantastic, hilarious film in Get Well Soon.
Greetings again from the darkness. The great Richard Pryor had a
portion of his act dedicated to having a heart attack, based on his
real life experience. I guess if he can generate laughter from a
coronary, there is no reason writer Will Reiser and director Jonathan
Levine (The Wackness) can't view Cancer as Comedy. There is little
doubt that the subject matter of this film will limit its audience, but
for those brave souls who give it a shot, I believe you will find it
funny, touching and insightful.
The film introduces us to Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is a very nice, very normal, very low-key guy who works at a radio station as a writer ... a very conscientious radio writer. Adam experiences a nagging pain in his back, which is unusual for a healthy 27 year old. After a few tests, the emotionless doctor informs him that he has a rare spinal cancer ... also very unusual for a healthy 27 year old. From this point forward, the film borders on brilliance at times.
Adam's girlfriend is played by Bryce Dallas Howard; his mother by Angelica Huston; and his best friend by Seth Rogen. Each reacts in different ways to Adam's diagnosis, but what's really interesting is not just how these people react, but also how Adam reacts. He moves forward in his meticulous manner, but all the while we know the emotions are brewing. We see this in his sessions with his therapist-in-training played by Anna Kendrick.
Seth Rogen's character is basically a carbon copy of his act in 40 Year Old Virgin. He spews profane one-liners faster than our ears can process. Despite the aggressive front, Rogen's character is a friend with a heart ... and one who doesn't hesitate to share his medicinal marijuana.
So while Rogen's character generates much of the laughter, the real treasure of this film is in the subtleties of each character in certain moments ... and each character has their moment. Many will compare this to Adam Sandler's film Funny People, which also starred Seth Rogen. But this movie has infinitely more depth and substance than that one offered.
My warning: brace yourself. My theatre was filled with tears and sniffles, with significant laugh out loud moments mixed in. This is an emotional, self-reflective film that will confound you as you inexplicably laugh while listening to cancer talk.
I thought this was a better film than "The King's Speech" or "Social
Network" my two favorite films of last year. Nothing this year has come
close so far to the sheer brilliance of 50/50. It is the best "disease
of the week" film ever made, which sounds like a backhanded compliment
but I don't know how to describe the genre any better.
I have always felt that Gordon-Levitt along with Gosling are far and away the two best young actors working today. I thought that Gordon-Levitt deserved an Oscar nomination for "The Lookout" but knew that was never going to happen. This is his time. His performance as a young man battling cancer is pitch perfect. You will laugh and cry along with him throughout his difficult journey. His best scenes are with his therapist played by Anna Kendrick. She was good in the overrated "Up in the Air"; she is great in this film, playing another neophyte in a high powered career. She will be nominated as well, no doubt.
Seth Rogan has the role of his career thanks in part to Will Reiser, the screenwriter, who was able to take the whole sexist, slacker, pothead thing that Rogan does and add a dimension of humanity. I think both of them also deserve Oscar nominations. Because of the nature of his role I would be surprised if Rogan gets one, but not too surprised. He is just hilarious and at times very touching.
Finally we come to Jonathan Levine, a director that I had never heard of prior to this film. He is fantastic with actors here and has a great style. I say he is a shoo in come Oscar time.
Now this review has really centered around Oscar and that is for a reason. It will not be released for awhile and I was lucky to see a preview screening in Denver last night. I could think of no other way to get the point across more clearly that this is a brilliant film that you must run to when it is released.
One more thing. I made the mistake of taking my 13 year old daughter thinking the R rating was more about the pot and the language, and that the message of the film would overcome those issues. I kind of regret it. I really don't mind her having seen the film in an overall context because the message is terrific, but man was it raunchy and uncomfortable to sit through with her.
Most movies don't know how to handle cancer. Heck, most people don't
know how to handle cancer and I'm not talking about the patients.
Cancer, or any other terminal illness for that matter, almost always
plays some kind x-factor in a film that is when a film even dares to
enter a realm often deemed depressing and "not for the movies." Most
often, scripts will position cancer as a tearjerking emotional turning
point in a film or as the initial spark of some banal "live life to the
"50/50" puts an end to that. Written semi-autobiographically by cancer survivor Will Reiser, it would seem it takes one to write one. Although cancer drives the entire story, the story doesn't fixate on cancer or melodramatize the terrible truths we already know about potentially fatal illness. Perhaps you could tell as much from the trailer thanks to some typical Seth Rogen antics, but the injection of contemporary R-rated humor is neither irreverent, insensitive nor an attempt to simply put a positive spin on a depressing subject. Life believe it or not doesn't stop for cancer. People don't sit in the hospital the entire time and then lie at home in bed the rest. Reiser's story provides a mostly unforced and honest depiction of a young man's diagnosis and treatment for potentially fatal spinal cancer, one where cancer isn't the conflict in and of itself, but the way it so dramatically changes the behavior of the people whose lives it enters and positively and negatively alters relationships.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues his spree of playing absolutely lovable main characters as Adam, a play-it-safe 27-year-old who after the initial shock handles his diagnosis in stride, keeping his ups and downs internal other than when the script cues him to let it out a bit. The more external symptoms come from Adam's girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) and mother (Anjelica Huston).
Other than focusing on these relationships, director Jonathan Levine ("The Wackness") puts particular emphasis on character perspective, which will change instantaneously at points throughout the film. In one terrific sequence, Adam enters the hospital for his first chemo treatment and gets bummed out by all the sick and ailing people in the hallway. After the older men he meets while getting treatment (Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer) give him some marijuana-filled pastries, he leaves down the same hallway high as a kite, suddenly elated despite the same negative images lining the hall. Levine understands that so much of how you deal with cancer relates to mood and perspective at any given time.
Levine coaxes brilliant and thoughtful performances out of his actors. Even though Rogen exerted his usual shtick a bit more than needed, he handles his character as written, someone who wants desperately to help his best friend but hides behind shallow self-centered form of support that many men turn to because they can't communicate emotions all that well.
The women of "50/50" also deliver if not more so. Howard's character is an unlikable mess but she gives her performance convincingly. Anjelica Huston perfects the ideal on-screen mother, the best since Melissa Leo's Oscar-winning mother in "The Fighter." Anna Kendrick also continues to blow me away with her talent. She plays a psychiatrist working on her PhD who receives Adam as just her third patient. She gives such lifelike quirks to her characters and Katie plays right to her strengths.
But in a drama/comedy about cancer, the key lies in tone and for that Levine should become an A-list director. "50/50" could have easily turned into a Hollywood hack-job like the various comic-toned cancer films before it, a film that either overplays the dramatic or overcompensates with the humorous, but "50/50" might be one of film's best balancing acts between the two. The shifts feel completely natural between moments of deep sentiment and moments of levity. Those who can't help but fixate on this being a movie about cancer will likely have to remind themselves to feel serious when "50/50" just wants you to simply absorb it as you would any other film.
Other than some predictable moments and plot devices to give the film a nicer Hollywood sheen, "50/50" provides a genuine and heartfelt movie experience, one that neither goes for the emotional sucker punch nor the sugarcoated version. Instead of making us look at cancer in a specific way, it makes us look at the way we look at cancer or any uncomfortable subject the way we talk about it or don't talk about it, the way we interact with those who live with it and the way we cope with it ourselves. That way when someone we love has a serious problem, we can ultimately do what's best for that person.
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50/50 has pretty much everything an amazing movie like this can offer.
It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and you'll come out of
the theater very satisfied. I cried for about a whole straight 20
minutes in total and laughed or glued my eyes to the screen the rest of
the time. This movie will make you not only appreciate all the work
went into it, but it will make you appreciate life itself. It is so
brutally realistic. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Seth Rogen are a great duo
and the supporting cast does a great job as well. This movie was made
with respect for its viewers. It takes something so serious and so
taboo to laugh at and makes it a comedy and a drama. It exceeds in both
genres. If I am correct, this movie is somewhat based on the
Screenwriter's life who also went through something very similar and
most of the events in the film are based on things he had to go through
as he also got cancer in his 20s.
Go see 50/50! You will not regret it at all! I am considering it for one of my favorite movies, but I think that is just a bit too soon as I need to have multiple viewings to judge if a movie is one of my favorites. I can guarantee one thing. 50/50 is an instant classic!
Mixing cancer and comedy doesn't seem like it should go so well, but
50/50 is a film that makes it work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Adam,
a 27 year old easy going guy who unexpectedly gets diagnosed with
cancer. The film details his struggle to beat the disease and all the
hardships that come along with having to fight a disease as crippling
as cancer at such a young age. Adam is surrounded by various other
people in his life that all influence him in different ways. Seth Rogen
plays his best friend, Kyle, who always tries to help Adam out, but
doesn't always know how to go about it. Anna Kendrick plays Adam's
therapist, Katherine, whose attempts to help Adam cope with the cancer
work at times, but at other times she just can't find the right way to
connect with the grieving youngster. Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam's
girlfriend and Anjelica Houston is one of the strongest characters,
Adam's overprotective mother. The film is a compassionate tale of love
and friendship while simultaneously being a raunchy pothead comedy. The
overlap is strange, but it works incredibly well.
There are so many ways to do a comedy film about cancer wrong, but very few ways to do it right. 50/50 thankfully manages to find the sweetspot of this risky terrain and succeeds in being a charmingly touching film as well as a wildly hilarious one. The writer of the film, Will Reiser, based the film on his own experiences with fighting and beating cancer at a young age, and his passion and understanding of this story shine beautifully through the film and its characters which surely all resemble Reiser's own friends and family in some way. 50/50 doesn't lean too far to either side of the comedy versus drama spectrum and it always maintains a consistent level of heartwarming hilarity balanced with touching sincerity. The drama and comedy weave in and out of each other perfectly and seamlessly with neither genre feeling inappropriate or out of place. It is sincere filmmaking at its finest.
Moreover, 50/50 just does a great job with its balance of genres, but also with the overall story and the great characters within that story. We grow such passionate empathy for Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a way I never thought could be possible. The film draws us into his troubled world so well and we are rooting for him all the way, cheering on his every move and growing more and more attached to him with every passing moment. We also grow to love the supporting cast who, with the exception of one particular character but I won't spoil anything, support Adam through all his hard times. The characters are all so well written and they play their key roles in Adam's life perfectly. 50/50 is a movie structured to where every character serves a major purpose in furthering Adam's development as well as the development of the plot. And so as we watch the relationships between Adam and the people in his life grow and fade we develop a deeper understanding of his character, making 50/50 an incredibly human story.
It's always nice to be so surprised by a film's quality. I expected good things from 50/50 from the first time I saw a trailer, but the movie itself exceeded my expectations. It is what the dramady subgenre is all about. It is a film tailor made to be the subgenre's posterchild. I laughed, I lamented, and I was brought close to tears at how heartwarming and touching of a film 50/50 is.
Adam (Gordon-Levitt) is a rule-following, mild-mannered twentysomething
who lives in Seattle with his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce
Dallas-Howard), and works at Seattle Public Radio. His life takes a
sudden and dramatic turn when he is diagnosed with a rare form of
cancer that has taken over his spine. A laidback kind of guy, Adam
handles each hurdle with surprising ease and levity while engaging in
somewhat helpful counseling from Katie (Anna Kendrick), a young
psychologist the hospital assigns him. Before long, though, his complex
relationships with Rachael, his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), and his
needy mother (Angelica Huston) become even more convoluted with the
introduction of chemotherapy and medicinal marijuana into his life. As
the severity of his condition increases, Adam begins to reassess his
life, his relationships, and the nonplussed façade he uses to get
The inevitable comparisons between "50/50" and 2009's "Funny People" are unfortunate. While I stuck up for "Funny People" more than most of my colleagues, even I will admit it is an incredibly flawed film that misses the mark on many levels. "50/50", then, plays out a bit like what "Funny People" should have been, right down to the performance of Seth Rogen. It is, first and foremost, a very funny movie and that is where "Funny People" first went awry. You can't make a comedy about cancer, or any other serious illness for that matter, and fail to produce a genuinely funny script. Laughs come often and organically. I also quite liked that writer Will Reiser (who based his script on the events of his own battle with cancer) makes it clear early on that he intends to laugh at cancer and if you're not up for that, you're in the wrong theater. That is not to say that the disease itself or the havoc it wreaks on Adam's life is disrespected or ignored; in fact, "50/50" gives a fairly realistic view of the hell that is aggressive cancer and the sometimes even more aggressive treatment. "50/50" is bold but soft, a combination that works well.
The dialogue between the characters in "50/50" flows with tremendous ease, especially in the scenes involving Adam and Kyle. This dynamic between JGL and Rogen is the meat of the film and the two play it out brilliantly. They have a chemistry that Anne Hathaway only wishes she could develop with well, anyone. (That was an unnecessary shot at Miss Hathaway. My apologies.) They reminded me of the type of friendship I might have with any one of my closer pals if we cursed more and occasionally smoked pot. Adam's other relationships are a bit awkward but whether this was done on purpose or not, it serves the narrative well. In my mind he would have a tense partnership with Rachael because they're clearly not suited for each other and any furtherance of his friendship with Katie beyond doctor-patient would be a bit odd.
All of the supporting actors hold their own. As spot-on as I might have been with JGL all those years ago, I would have never guessed, after reluctantly watching "Twilight", that Kendrick would be an actress whose performances I truly look forward to. This isn't quite to the level of her work in "Up in the Air" but it is good and believable nonetheless. Huston's character seems a bit over-the-top in the early going but the depth of her character comes to light in the late stages and Huston pulls it together splendidly. And Rogen gives what might be his best performance to date. To be fair, I'm not much of a Rogen fan so I'm far from an expert on his value as an actor. But whereas he was completely outclassed in "Funny People" and pretty much plays the same character in almost every film, he shows a little more strength in "50/50" than he ever has before (with the possible exception of "Knocked Up"). I actually liked him and I haven't felt that way toward him very often.
But of course, the weight of "50/50" rests almost entirely on the shoulders of JGL and he holds up to the challenge. One of the best compliments I can give an actor is to say that he and his character become one and the same. That's what JGL does here and that's why "50/50" succeeds. He envelopes himself into the Adam character and makes his portrayal incredibly believable. It is almost like watching a documentary on a young cancer patient. Adam handles his disease with class and dignity but not without emotion. His outbursts are few but powerful and through them JGL sells the story beautifully. Simply put, this guy is a star and "50/50" serves as the announcement of such to those of you who didn't already know this to be fact.
"50/50" is honest and at times tough to watch but never purposefully harsh or depressing. In fact, it is generally positive but in a way that isn't all sunshine and unicorns. It is smart, hilarious, and even touching while all the time remaining respectful of the audience's ability to relate to difficult circumstances without artificial emotional fishing. It is an excellent film marked by one outstanding performance that deserves the attention received come Award Season.
How does a filmmaker combine humor and drama in a story about a 27 year
old man diagnosed with cancer? Easy: Just give them equal measure with
the title 50/50 -- light treatment of a dark subject.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has to deal not only with his own emotions when he is diagnosed, but also those of a close friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), an inveterate partier and ribald quipper, and his chronically worrisome mother (Anjelica Huston). Losing his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) along the way adds to the potential downbeat.
Yet director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser keep it all as upbeat as possible, not in small part due to Rogen's constantly funny chatter, which comes at just the right times as the plot gets heavy with cancer surviving techniques (the film turns out to show the way to battle: with humor).
Of course, Rogen has had training playing a similar role in Funny People with Adam Sandler. No one plays a weed-smoking buddy better than he. Gordon-Levitt is also an actor who can just about better than anyone else play the soulful, endearing, slow-moving romantic as he did in (500) Days. As a cancer victim, he engages the audience in observation of a vulnerable hero, who fights with a serenity and equanimity that could be a model for those wishing to survive and those who wish to help.
50/50 is a comedy with compassion, a distant cousin to the prevalent bromances that rarely treat the support men give each other in times of real danger. Usually it's vacuous women who supply that danger and significant support. Hooray for the men this time.
After playing a bad boy rocker with a full head of hair, Joseph
Gordon-Levitt now plays a nervous Cancer-patient with no hair at all.
50/50 is loosely based on the story of Will Reiser, who wrote this
film, and is telling us his story and struggle through the character
Adam is played by Levitt, a marvelous actor who is continuing his string of quirky, yet well made independent films where he plays an off-the-wall protagonist. Adam is twenty-seven and works for a Seattle radio company. He is informed that he has a rare form of Cancer called Neurofibrosarcoma, and is told he only has a 50% chance of living with it. Frustrated, but moving day by day in a seemingly calm manner with his buddy Kyle (Rogen), Adam continues his long journey only to be bothered by his annoying, self-centered girlfriend (Howard) frequently. Through thick and thin, Adam starts to cope with his disease and manages to stay calm for most of the picture.
We all have to die at one point. It's part of the life. But I can't imagine the sadness and calamity brought upon someone who finds out they have a rare form of Cancer and that their chances of living are fifty-fifty. At twenty-seven nonetheless. My mother, who has work in a Chemotherapy unit for about a decade, said that the youngest she has even seen someone die from Cancer is two and a half years old. Some people, hardly get to experience life at firsthand because of Cancer.
There are so many forms of Cancer, rare and common, harmless and not, that your chances of getting it are very high. Getting it is at random, but coping with it is even harder. While 50/50 has a heartbreaking, and is sometimes emotion-testing and tear-jerking, it still has a strong comedic relief thanks to Seth Rogen, who is rather unfairly bashed in a majority of his films.
The acting is superb by both leads, the parents of Adam played by Angelica Houston and Serge Houde are portrayed effectively and in a loving way, and the screenplay and Johnathan Levine's direction never fails or works against this film in any way. Three years prior he was creating good chemistry between Ben Kingsley and Josh Peck in The Wackness. Now, he's finally mastered in creating two characters that do nothing but sparkle when on screen together. You can't really call this a Seth Rogen film because while his comedy is here, his underlying sweetness shows through the cloth of this film more than it has ever done before. The last time he gave a performance this well done was in Sandler's Funny People.
Thanks to a wonderful third act in terms of direction and screenplay, you get an all out emotional breakdown from the characters and yourself. 50/50 has a way with making emotional moments not seemed contrived, but welcomed. I think out of everyone in the theater, my mom was more emotional than the average person in the general public which is understandable.
Many films have come out this year, and many have been ignored. Comedies and dramas alike have been swept under the bus with other blockbusters in theaters at the same time. I plan on doing a list of the top ignored and underrated films of 2011. I hope 50/50 doesn't make that list.
Starring: Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Bryce Dallas-Howard, Angelica Houston, and Serge Houde. Directed by: Johnathan Levine.
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