The following review is spoiler free and is meant to be read BEFORE seeing the movie, as opposed to the upcoming podcast episode, which will contain spoilers and an in-depth discussion of this movie
The television marketing campaign for 50/50 has done the movie no favors. Each TV spot I have seen reduces this movie to a story about some guy who tries to get laid because chicks dig dudes with cancer… or something. Don’t let that be the reason you see this movie, because it is grossly misleading, and that would be a terrible movie 99 out of 100 times a movie with that plot would get made.
50/50 is about Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who despite all his cautious living, contracts an extremely rare kind of spinal cancer. The film proceeds to show us Adam’s next few weeks (or is it months? I couldn’t tell), and how he, his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), his best friend (Seth Rogen), and his mother (Anjelica Houston) deal with his cancer. We see him meet new friends (played by Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer) whilst undergoing chemotherapy, and we see him as he goes to a therapist (the amazing Anna Kendrick).
50/50 is a movie about its characters more than a plot, which makes the film feel lighter than it should be for a movie about such a heavy subject matter. Some of the dialogue feels a little clichéd as well. The side effects of chemotherapy are barely explored, but seeing as how this movie focuses on how cancer affects the dynamics of relationships as opposed to how cancer affects the body, one can let that slide.
Overall, 50/50 is a light film that’s well-acted, directed, and staged, but few of the performers really stand out (Anna Kendrick is best here). I liked it, but I won’t remember it years from now.