Cancer is obviously pretty awful it so I don’t deride 50/50 for being a sitcom and not a documentary. 50/50 is a lot like the character Seth Rogan plays in it, a goofy sidekick to a terrible ordeal. There’s not even a fraction of the heft of actual cancer but that’s ok, who wants to watch a movie with the heft of actual cancer?
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the patient who is flabberghasted by the news that he has the big C. “I recycle,” he offers as a reason that he can’t have this disease in his mid-20’s. Rogen is his best friend and uses his friend’s condition to pick up girls, this isn’t meant as insensitive but as a way to make it seem to his friend that the cancer isn’t serious. More serious is the truly unprofessional relationship between Gordon-Levitt and his therapist (Anna Kendrick). The two have fantastic chemistry and the scenes are enjoyable (and I’ve said it before I’m a sucker for therapy scenes) but the whole dynamic as they fall in love is so inappropriate that it’s unsettling. It’s important to remember that this is, at heart, a romantic comedy and should be freed from those icky traits like “what would really happen,” but it took me out of the whole enterprise.
Yes, it’s predictable, yes, many of its characters are one-dimensional (Bryce Dallas Howard as Gordon-Levitt’s girlfriend at the beginning of the film is the most glaring) but it has enough humor and good performances to make it enjoyable.