Sunday, December 18, 2011

MA$$ACRE: 50/50 (2011)

I cannot stand how illness and diseases (particularly life-threatening ones) get glamorized in movies. Dying is not glamorous, ennobling, or in any way life-affirming, and I really hate to see it being used as a prop for cheap sentimentality. 50/50 bills itself as a cancer movie free from all this, and it succeeds, well, probably 50% of the time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young radio producer who's struck with a rare form of cancer that proves fatal to half of those diagnosed with it. In addition to cancer, he's got to deal with how everyone else reacts to the news, including his somewhat shallow girlfriend, overbearing mother, man-child best friend (Seth Rogen, unsurprisingly), and an unflinchingly positive therapist who's probably younger than he is. This is a cancer "comedy" for the most part, and I was deathly afraid Rogen was going to spoil the whole thing. Surprisingly I didn't hate him at the end of the movie, and chalk this up to the relatively restrained material he was given in the script as opposed to his portrayal of his character. Levitt doesn't deliver as strong a performance as he's capable of, but does a decent job, especially toward the end when he's approaching major surgery that'll determine his eventual outcome. As far as using cancer as material for comedy, it's still pretty guilty of making light of the situation, but usually because the characters see no reason to succumb to self-pity and instead make the best of a bad situation. There are a few scenes that try to hammer home how much it'd suck to be sick, but these are more or less balanced out by the funny stuff. For a realistic portrayal of the toll cancer takes on families, A Lion in the House is the best place to go. Otherwise, this isn't terrible if you want a nibble of reality that won't spoil a fun night at the movies.

5.5 / 10 = Watch if there's nothing else showing

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