The screenplay for 50/50 was penned by one Will Reiser and is based on Reiser’s own bout with spinal cancer. A tragic comedy as opposed to a comic tragedy, it stars Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as the young, dutiful suburbanite with a tumor on his spine.
The most interesting thing about the film is how it exhibits the ways in which people react to and deal with Adam’s (Gordon-Leavitt’s) cancer. His girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) starts behaving disgracefully. Adam’s close buddy Kyle (Seth Rogen) wants Adam to get laid–and also uses him to attract women. But, in addition, he always sticks by him. Adam himself reacts to the disease by smoking marijuana. Welcome to the Western world and its young people.
Directed by Jonathan Levine, 50/50 is mildly funny–I don’t consider it hilarious, as some have claimed–and occasionally packs a punch (as when Adam begins to act irrationally behind the wheel of Kyle’s car). It’s also rather slight, though. Really, it’s a little less enjoyable than some of today’s lauded TV series such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Big Love and Sons of Anarchy. TV writers are giving motion picture writers a run for their money, notwithstanding 50/50 IS perfectly watchable.