There's a reason why Summit Entertainment has been quietly pre-screening 50/50 for select audiences way ahead of its September 30th release, and it's because it's a damn good film. It's the type of film we haven't seen from Summit yet, and it's probably one you're not used to seeing. To call this a straight-up cancer comedy would do it a disservice, because it's not just a comedy. 50/50 is funny, sad, emotional, endearing, heartwarming and kind of raunchy when it wants to be. It features at least two performances that could wind up with outside Oscar chances (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and especially Anjelica Huston), and because it comes from a place of experience (the film is based on screenwriter Will Reiser's own personal struggles with cancer in his 20s), the overall impact it has on the viewer just feels honest and real.
But enough about how much I made love to this movie, how about I tell you what it's about. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Will, a regular guy with a decent job and hot girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard showing off some fun acting chops) who gets diagnosed with a really rare case of cancer. He's immediately put through intense chemo, and given a 50/50 chance of survival. With help from his nasty, sex-obsessed best friend (Seth Rogen doing his usual Seth Rogen shtick, which I find funny but can see how others may be tired of it by now) and his doctor-appointed therapist (Anna Kendrick), Will slowly comes to terms with his sickness and the fact that this may indeed be the last days of his life. Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) does a great job directing a script that's so personal and real to someone else after working on The Wackness, which was so personal to him. I like that about Levine, and it's a sign of a solid director. More please.
It's powerful stuff, for sure (especially for people who've either survived cancer or are close to someone who's had cancer), and the film ain't perfect (a couple minor subplots felt like they needed more attention, and the movie definitely needed more Anjelica Huston), but its strong performances and the way it tackles its subject matter will no doubt have you crying and laughing as the credits start to roll. It's one of those films that sort of wakes up your soul, and I really dug that about it.
You can now check out the trailer over at Apple, where it just premiered. Expect 50/50 to (probably) premiere at the Toronto Film Festival ahead of arriving in theaters on September 30th.
Let us know what you think of it.