Have you had enough of Seth Rogen? I think I have. He’s a one trick pony and he’s done that trick in a lot of movies lately. Basically, each role is a variation on the same theme. And that theme is “ball jokes.” 50/50 is not without smatterings of that same theme, but Rogen isn’t at the center of the film, which frees it of that “I’m over Seth Rogen” handicap.

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a mild-mannered, overly cautious, radio producer with a loudmouth, ball-joke-tellin’ friend, Kyle (Rogen). He has a girlfriend, Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard), and she sucks. You know she sucks from the get go. She comes across very sucky. His mother is very mom-like—loving to the point that it approaches suffocating. His dad has Alzheimer’s.

Things are pretty even keel. He likes his job, but his boss doesn’t seem to notice or be interested in his efforts. His relationship with Rachel is moving forward despite her sucking (he can’t see it, but we can.) He has a sweet collection of hoodies and North Face jackets.

Then he gets cancer.

The wallowing is limited. There’s shock and confusion, but it doesn’t become overly dramatic. There’s plenty of opportunity to plummet toward depressing, but it only take edge before returning to a very pragmatic, almost matter of fact, view of cancer.

Sure, you get cancer. That sucks. Why waste time being miserable? Try to get something out of it. Sympathy sex? Go out there and get you some. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a crappy hand. Is that karma? It’s karma, right? And he’s not a bad guy. He’s not cheating on Rachel. They do eventually break up vis a vis her sucking. There may be some moral grayness surrounding Kyle riding shotgun to Adam’s cancer in order to get some action of his own, but he’s just trying to be there for his friend in his own way.

I don’t think his reaction is trumped up or embellished for the sake of it being a movie. There’s truth to it. Life doesn’t have to halt the immediate second the “C-word” is dropped.

There were attempts at creating camaraderie amongst a gang of chemotherapy patients that seemed shoe-horned in to give broader and different perspectives of cancer. I don’t think we needed further explanation of the point that “cancer sucks, but you’re still alive.” They smiled and joked and ate pot macaroons while getting chemo. Pleasant scenes, but not entirely necessary. Still, one of the patients was Philip Baker Hall (Magnolia, Hard Eight, Boogie Nights) and I’m more than happy to see him in anything.

A real bright spot in the movie are the mirthful exchanges with Adam’s “So, you’ve got cancer” therapist, Dr. Katie, very charmingly played by Up in the Air’s Anna Kendrick. Slightly manufactured, but it creates a palette for hopefulness. She’s clumsy and new. He’s not into because he’s “fine.” They find a balance and a relationship that helps both of their situations.

50/50 isn’t overwrought. It’s sort of a walk down the street, casual approach to cancer, life and death and the meaning of it all. It’s accessible in a way that makes you wonder, “How would I handle it?” I obviously hope to never have to answer that.

It’s honest and genuine. It’s a nice movie. Enjoyable, funny  and heart-felt. It is well worth a trip to the theater as the chill starts to set in the air. It’s a movie that feels like Fall.

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