Tuesday, May 22, 2012

3 Short Paragraphs: 50/50

2011, Jonathan Levine -- download

Fuck you cancer.  As they say, we have all been touched by cancer.  As I say, it is not whether I will get cancer but when I will get cancer.  It is just a characteristic of the geography I grew up in.  But the last few years have given me some direct contact with it, luckily most ending (does it ever really end?) well.  50/50 approaches the cancer, i-might-be-dying, story from the point of view of someone with, as they say, his entire life ahead of him.  Cancer stories from characters in their 40s or 50s are common place enough to be subplots on TV shows when ratings get low. But a character in his mid-twenties having to deal with a 50/50 shot at surviving is something new.

I was interested in seeing Seth Rogen challenged to do a role where he needed some concern & seriousness along with his usual levity.  His character Kyle is the jerk friend, the friend we all have that annoys the fuck out of us but time forces us to retain.  Also, we usually see some element of charm in them.  But when forced to confront the impending possible death of his friend, and the very real bad months coming with chemo and its side effects, Kyle straightens out... just enough.  It was very touching to see a friend be a real friend by retaining the jerk attitude when needed but also being very very affected behind the scenes.  Not surprising as the script was loosely based on the experiences of Seth Rogen's real life friend Will Reiser.

Small movies, and can you really call them indie anymore (??), shine through in the focused dialogue and the well chosen cast.  Bryce Dallas Howard is the girlfriend who just cannot quite support her boyfriend.  We hate her, through Kyle, for doing it but see ourselves in her.  Could we support someone through all the pain, lethargy and visible illness?  Anjelica Huston is the overbearing mother whom he can no longer avoid or put off -- this time her desire to just take care of her son, as if he still a little boy, is warranted, if still typically heavy handed.  And the small supporting roles of Phillip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer were just perfectly noted.  Everything was handled nice and low key.  And nice movies are nice to watch.