It seems in a world of trailers designed to trick people into watching a different film than the one that was actually made, a movie delivering on what it promised would seem out of the question. 50/50 bucks that trend and fulfilled on what every TV spot, late night TV appearance and junket has been claiming what the movie would be. Simply, it’s a comedy starring Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anna Kendrick about a twenty-something finding out and dealing with the fact that he has cancer. The film itself is honest and sincere. At times, it’s hilarious. Sometimes, it’s unflinchingly bleak, but that’s what you’d expect from a comedy about cancer.
Based on the real-life story of one of Seth Rogen’s friends, 50/50 ditches the typical “terminal illness comedy” route of having the main character finally doing everything they wanted to do only to realize that what they wanted from life was always right in front of them. Instead, the film is a refreshing take; to goal of the protagonist turns out to simply maintain a life he can no longer maintain that might end very soon. Both director Jonathan Levine (who also directed off-beat indie dramedy the Wackness) and writer Will Reiser strike an excellent balance between the levity and pathos in the film, which provides for several hearty laughs throughout.
50/50 itself doesn’t present anything life-changing or revelatory for the viewer, but it’s pretty damn funny. That should be the only expectation from a comedy anyway– whether it’s about cancer or not.