50/50 (2011)

TMG Scale 9.0     P Factor 0.0     MPAA Rating: R
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas-Howard, Anjelica Huston

TMG: This is a good film. It is a very good film. I was tempted to give it a 10.0. It will make you laugh and make you cry. It will make you assess yourself and life. It raises lots of questions without trying to force too many answers. Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. You can miss it, duck it, hit it back or get hit and take a dive. The best bet is to stay in the batters box for the next pitch. You might strike out…or you might get a walk. This film has nothing to do with baseball. I just like baseball metaphors for life.
Good-time buddies Adam (Gordon-Levitt) and Kyle (Rogan) are bouncing along in life. Adam looking for love and Kyle looking just to get laid. Opposites attract even with guys. Then, the seemingly “good one”,  Adam, gets diagnosed with cancer. Bad things happen to good people after all. But in his own bizarre way, Kyle sticks by his buddy in thick hair  and thin. Adam’s new girlfriend (Bryce Dallas-Howard) bales on him. Adam’s Mom (Huston) reacts like a real loving mom would. Adam’s Dad is so far down the road with Alzheimers, he has no clue. It is just as well. There are so many messages here it is hard to sort them all out. The fact is when a sudden death of a young person or cancer strikes, there is no solid playbook to follow. No one really knows what they will do, even when it happens. Even good people can fail the test.  Just stand in the receiving line at any funeral of a young person. It’s awkward and messy. People fumble when handed the ball (sorry, another sports metaphor). Just being there and taking the pain along side your friend or loved one is all that you are expected to do…but do it.
The 24 year old newbie therapist, Katherine (assigned to help Adam cope) is trying so hard. She knows what she has been taught and tries all the cliche tricks, but she realizes she must learn from her patient what she needs to know. In a sense, Katherine represents all of us. We all need to care and love, but also need to listen and learn from those who meet with challenge or tragedy. Often doctors, friends and family end up getting aid and comfort from the victim. Adam supplies the stability to everyone,  even though it is he who has the cancer.
TMG refuses to tell you more. This movie needs to unwind and reveal itself to you. I assure you, you will learn, laugh, cry and enjoy the experience. Take someone you care about and hug them when it is over.  Let them know you are with them, in good times and in bad, for richer for poorer and in sickness and in health. You don’t need to be married to give that support to another human being.
Joy Lynn: As I  noted on my Facebook page, if you plan to see 50/50, take a few tissues.  If you are a mom of a 26 year old son,  take the entire kleenex box.
The overall theme in this film is very similar to The Way!   You cannot, and perhaps more importantly, should not,  live life alone.  You need a “community” of people to help carry your burdens. In this case, a dog (almost a person!),  a therapist, a parent, and a best friend fill the bill.    The saddest part of this movie for me was that fact that Adam began his struggle very much alone. The writer did an excellent job portraying the loneliness theme in this film by not having Adam drive, no true girlfriend, only one parent available emotionally, a “retired” greyhound dog, and only one friend Kyle (who was yet to prove his worth).  No one can feel your pain—but each can help you carry the burden little by little. They may fumble trying, but each can offer something if they are willing to try. Thankfully, the story added some humor — not too much so to be disrespectful, but just enough to take the edge off. This is a very real movie — my favorite kind!!  A few loopholes here and there made for a slow start, but once the chemo started, the movie began a new path.

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