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Movie Review – 50/50

I just saw 50/50.  I don’t think I’ve seen a cancer-meets-youth movie since 1991’s Dying Young (Campbell Scott, Julia Roberts).  This one’s a little different as it’s based largely on truth.  The movie centers on a character named Adam Schwartz who, at age 27, learns he has a rare and serious form of cancer.  Schwartz (not coincidentally) represents the screenplay’s author, Will Reiser.  As is often the case with these films, Reiser even plays a small role in the movie as a character named Greg (who I, unfortunately, have no memory of now that I’m home again and IMDB-ing the movie).

Oh, and don’t worry here.  I will NOT give away the storyline. Uncool.

One of the first things I noticed about the movie was the unconventional motley crew of actors involved in it. (I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.)

– Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Adam) – I knew I recognized him.  He’s the kid from 3rd Rock from the Sun, all grown up. Nicely acted.  And he bears a striking resemblance to Reiser.

– Seth Rogen (Kyle) – He’s actually playing himself … and not.  He’s a real-life friend of Reiser’s and was his support system throughout the cancer battle.  I guess they figured that ‘Seth Rogen’ as a character would be too distracting so they just made him Adam’s radio work buddy.  Of course, he essentially plays himself anyway … bringing profanity to life in an oddly acceptable, your-grandmother-could-be-in-the-room kind of way.  He really often plays the same character which I don’t always enjoy but I did in this one.  Everyone has a Seth Rogen-type in their lives.  And sometimes we really need him.

– Anna Kendrick (Katherine) – She’s the cute little actress who plays Jessica, Bella’s only non-bloodsucking friend in the Twilight films. If you’re higher brow than me, you’ve likely seen her in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or Up in the Air.

– Bryce Dallas Howard (Rachael) – Opie’s kid (though I’m really more from the Richie Cunningham generation).  Didn’t I just see her play the same selfish, unlikeable bitch in The Help?  She’s an attractive young woman with amazing eyes, a killer pedigree and some pretty decent acting chops.  Seriously, her agent needs to get on that right away before she’s totally typecast as the contemptible villainess.

– Anjelica Huston (Diane, Adam’s mom) – I don’t really need to elaborate here, do I?

– Matt Frewer (Mitch) – Max Headroom.  Anyone? Yeah, I know.  My nerd is showing.

– Philip Baker Hall (Alan) – I’m sorry but he’ll always be the surly library cop from Seinfeld to me.  (That show will remain a frame of reference for me for a very long time.)  And I also see that he guest starred in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. Well, now it’s making a little more sense.

The movie definitely held my attention.  Which is why I found myself very pissed off at the Coca-Cola Company and, even more so, at the minimum wage-earning teenager who talked me into a larger Diet Coke than I had any business buying.  Twice … and that was with major restraint … I had to bolt (and I mean literally run the length of the place) to the bathroom and then bug my friend upon returning about what I missed while I was out.  Not a plot from which you want to step away, you know?

There were some pretty funny parts involving pot smoking and manscaping as well as some more sobering ones that I won’t divulge here.   The movie prompted me to think about a few things from other perspectives and, I will confess, that I had a little emotional moment or two as the story unfolded.

And, as always, I ran a little late getting there to meet my friend today.  I had a bit of a crap-lodged-in-eye emergency.  As a result, I skipped the mascara which … as it turns out … was probably a good thing.