50/50 is the story of a guy’s transformative and, yes, sometimes funny journey to health. 50/50 draws its emotional core from Will Reiser’s own experience with cancer and reminds us that friendship and love, no matter what bizarre turns they take, are the greatest healers.
If you can imagine a movie about cancer being funny this one would be it, at least in spots. Some of the humor is sexual in nature but when it revolves around how people really act around cancer patients, it can be enlightening in a humorous way. In this movie it is Adam who learns he has cancer in his back. In one scene Adam’s supervisor (Adam is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is at a party given in Adam’s honor and, knowing Adam has cancer, he hugs him and says it was nice knowing him. A fellow reviewer told me after the screening that he had cancer several years ago and people actually said that to him. So it is humorous when the viewer realizes that people can actually be that lacking in wisdom and that this movie nails them. Some of Adam’s reactions to the pain killers and morphine are humorous too as he walks around with a big, dumb grin on his face in a few scenes. Again, someone who has experienced powerful pain medication will probably smile at the accurate way these scenes are portrayed. Part of the humor is in the way Adam’s friend Kyle attempts to get him to live life to the fullest.
The movie has strong drama too as Adam avoids his constantly worrying mother and is in a relationship with a woman who is not really into the relationship. She does things like showing up a couple hours late to pick up Adam after his chemotherapy treatments. However, things change when Adam meets a counselor who is there to help him through the difficult time. She is young, only 24, but he instantly takes a liking to her and she reciprocates those feelings.
The film contains some powerful dramatic moments including the moment Adam says good-bye to his mother before going in for the fateful surgery he needs in order to survive. It’s too bad that, despite its themes of friendship and of facing life’s tests and trials head on, that strong language and sexual comments, in addition to some drug comments, prevent us from awarding our Dove Seal to this movie.