27-year-old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, much to the surprise of his best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), the horror of his hysterical mother Diane (Anjelica Huston), and the indifference of his girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard). He begins treatment, makes friends with a group of elderly stoner patients, and meets a love interest in the form of a 24-year-old doctor-in-training (the unconvincing Anna Kendrick). The film explores the variety of ways that loved ones react to the presence of death and it does so in a sincere manner that obviously arises from screenwriter Will Reiser’s firsthand experience with the disease. Cancer aside, 50/50 is admittedly another one of those films that star popular young Hollywood actors who smoke pot and have frank, vulgarity-laden discussions about things like blow jobs and yeast infections. Every moment of bleak, heartfelt honesty is balanced with a humorous complaint or weed-based joke. Regardless of this, the relationship between the two stars feels legitimate and the very fact that Reiser centered a buddy comedy around such a sensitive topic is a noble and interesting act. The success of the film really centers around the viewer’s tolerance for its stars and conventions, some will surely weep.
50/50 opens in Philly-area theaters today.