“50/50”: That’s How Much I Liked/Disliked the Movie

Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) tries to comfort Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Dear Seth Rogen and Julia Roberts: Before you make any more movies that I might like, please call me. I want to talk you out of ruining them for me. Thanks.

The Mister and I saw “50/50” yesterday, which was an apt title for me: I half liked and half disliked the film. “50/50” is an odd dramedy, peculiar because it’s about a young man, Adam (well-played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who has a rare form of spinal cancer. The 50/50 really refers to the odds he has of survival. Usually, there’s nothing funny about cancer and the potential of death.

The movie is based on the real-life health issues of comedy writer Will Reiser, a cancer survivor who wrote the screenplay. Unfortunately for me, Reiser’s real-life best friend is none other than the foul-mouthed actor Seth Rogen. I don’t think Rogen is the least bit funny, so I’ve avoided seeing his movies. But the storyline for “50/50” seemed compelling, so I temporarily set aside my Rogen aversion and hoped he could be ignored.

Guess what: He couldn’t be. That was disappointing. And so was the film’s rampant drug use.

Katherine (Anna Kendrick) is Adam’s young therapist.

Despite my Rogen funk, there was plenty that’s appealing in “50/50.” I especially liked how we see what kind of person Adam is right from the start when he refuses to run across a deserted street until he has the signal. This was a character we could relate to . . . unlike Rogen’s, who uses Adam’s cancer to try to score with women.

Anjelica Huston plays Adam’s worried mother.

Anna Kendrick does a nice job as Adam’s inexperienced therapist, while Anjelica Huston is wonderful as his mother (some of the scenes between mom and son left me weepy). Once again, Bryce Dallas Howard plays the woman we’d all like to give a tongue-lashing, following up on her turn as the hated Hilly Holbrook in “The Help.” Here she’s Rachael, Adam’s increasingly conflicted girlfriend. I also enjoyed the relationship Adam forged with two older chemo compatriots, Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer.

I finally appreciated the Rogen character near the end when he showed his true colors. But Reiser should’ve picked someone other than his real-life bestie for the part, because I think he would’ve toned down the profanity for another actor. The Mister said that Rogen probably thinks the f-word is an everyday adjective, verb, and noun. But we don’t.

And was all that cussing necessary? Not at all. I’ve complained about this before, but I fear it’s falling on Hollywood’s deaf ears. In the real world, people use decent, nonvulgar vocabulary . . . well, at least they do in my social circle (unless I’m alone in the car and driving behind idiots).

Will you like this movie? The odds are 50/50.

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