50/50 DVD Review

Jonathan Levine’s comedy drama is equally touching and hilarious, tastefully tackling the taboo subject of cancer. Based upon writer Will Reiser’s own experience, the film follows Adam (Joseph Gordon Levitt) teetotal radio journalist as he tries to beat a rare form a cancer with the help of his friends.

Whilst not being an obvious subject for comedy, 50/50 has many funny moments in amongst the obvious drama. Seth Rogen tones down his usual clamorous performance as Adam’s best friend, a role which brings a lot of much needed light relief. Here Rogen seems to have matured from his Apatow collaborations and he often steals the scene. His often heartfelt performance is perhaps due to how he was the annoying but caring friend by Will Reiser’s side. Angelica Huston is also brilliant playing Adam’s mother. Her overbearing nature and believable portrayal of a mother in crisis really strikes a chord. This has to be her best performance for years outside of Wes Anderson’s work and it is difficult to see any other actress in that role.

Breaking away from Hollywood’s typical portrayals of terminal illness, this drama manages to be poignant without overstepping the line into schmaltzy. This is partly due to the brief influxes of humour but also to how Adam’s emotional progression is believable and much of this is down to a good script. Adam’s initial rejection to the news and later acceptance is believable and makes sense. He is not a fearless ‘martyr’ but he instead seems to value his own mortality, which in turn allows the audience to buy into him as a character. One of the final exchanges between Adam and his parents surely will not leave a dry eye among any viewer.

Perhaps the only real fault in the narrative is that huge aspects of Adam’s ordeal are skipped over, but only so much could be fitted within the 100 minute running time.

The DVD version contains numerous extra features including deleted scenes, audio commentary and a few behind the scenes documentaries. These give further insight into the real-life story which inspired the film, but also gives a glimpse into the working relationship between Rogen and Reiser which does not seem a million miles away from the relationship portrayed in the movie.

50/50 manages to perfectly balance comedy and drama, avoiding familiar cliché’s and creating a narrative which is emotionally involving.

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