ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Film review: 50/50

Updated on November 23, 2011

The Big C. One of the world's biggest killers. With the disease affecting so many people, it's not surprising that there are not a whole lot of laughs to be had on the subject. Or so you would think.

There are currently two US TV shows that feature main characters suffering from the disease: Breaking Bad and The Big C. The latter definitely approaches the disease from a humorous perspective. As does this film.

Whilst out pounding the streets, Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) notices he has a twinge in his back that's slowing him down. As his discomfort from it increases, he decides to go and get it checked out.

Unfortunately for him, it's not good news. His doctor tells him that he actually has a rare form of cancer growing on his spine. The doc suggests chemo in an attempt to reduce the tumour, and after the treatment they would take it from there.

Obviously being curious about his condition, he looks it up on the internet; reading through WebMD he finds out that those suffering from it usually have a 50/50 chance of survival.

This is devastating news for all concerned. His girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) is genuinely freaked out by the news. As is his best buddy Kyle (Seth Rogen). Kyle doesn't let it get him down for too long however, as he soon discovers that being seriously ill is a pretty amazing chick magnet. So as far as Kyle is concerned every dark cloud...

Meanwhile Adam's doctor also recommended that he talk to a therapist, to help him through this difficult period. When he turns up for his session however, Katherine (Anna Kendrick) isn't quite what he was expecting. Not only is she young and pretty, but she's also hugely inexperienced. After a couple of sessions however, she starts to grow on him.

No matter how much counselling Adam has however, cannot prepare him for the many changes in his life ahead that the disease has in store for him.

Although there are clearly comic moments throughout the film, this is no attempt at a gross out cancer comedy. The disease is always treated with the utmost respect; the laughs that are had are always at the expense of situations that are constructed by the characters own doing.

The sensitivity in which the material is approached is unsurprisingly from the pen of someone who suffered from the disease. Writer Will Reiser went through a similar experience himself, one that he shared with his close friend Rogen; so in effect, Rogen is playing a version of himself in the film.

It has to be said that it's always difficult to take Gordon-Hewitt seriously in any leading man role. He's just too darn wet to convey any spark of real personality in his roles. This bland, everyman aura works to his advantage here however, as there's no need for him to be larger than life, that's what Rogen is there for after all.

The fact that Reiser is writing from a place of familiarity means that the script never side steps the disease, and yet to still manages to prevent it ever feeling like a sombre made-for-TV flick. The humour in particular is occasionally risqué without ever being dark. Rogen could have easily been unleashed akin to a bull in a china shop, but shows great restrain.

Kendrick also puts in yet another sterling performance, where she just manages to breeze through scenes with seemingly little or no effort at all.

Director Jonathan Levine should also be given a shout out for maintaining a respectful balance between the humour and drama. Considering his lack of directing experience, he makes some bold strokes here.

50/50 is both warm and charming, which it manages to be without giving the disease too much credit. It's not a film about cancer; rather it's about a young man coming to terms with having the disease, and how to handle it in all aspects of his life. It will neither have you rolling in the aisles, nor filling up buckets with tears; chances are you'll love it though, and you can't say fairer than that considering its killer subject matter.

4 booms


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)