Cancer and comedy don’t make for great bedfellows. Seth Rogen should know that well; he was part of Judd Apatow’s 2009 slight misfire, Funny People, which tried to find humour in the concept.
But now, in the movie 50/50, he and his team get it right. Perhaps part of the reason? This time, for Rogen at least, it’s personal.
50/50, a drama that carries a bit of a light edge to it all things considered, was written by Will Reiser, a comedy writer who was diagnosed with cancer in his mid-20s, and had a great pal to walk with him through the battle – a frumpy funny man by the name of Seth Rogen.
And if you think a guy like Rogen can’t find something to laugh about, no matter what the ordeal….well, then you don’t know Rogen very well.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 50 Days of Summer) plays Adam, a 20-something broadcaster who visits his doctor with back pain.
The diagnosis is a rare form of spinal cancer, and the odds of beating it are…you guessed right…50/50.
And so begins an emotional roller coaster journey that has Rogen, his best friend, encouraging his pal – oh, and using his illness to pick up sympathetic women – his ice cold girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), sticking by him out of guilt, his mother (Angelica Houston), smothering him, which seems to be the only thing she knows how to do, and a sweet therapist-in-training (Up In The Air’s Anna Kendrick) trying to help Adam, only her inexperience sometimes makes matters worse.
It’s often been said that laughter is the best medicine.
For 50/50, it ain’t a bad plan at all; the movie’s best moments come from Gordon-Levitt and Rogen genuinely doing what good buds too — clowning around, being raunchy, but most important, being real.
Part of the magic in this relationship is that Rogen is probably the only character that doesn’t treat his friend like the obituary has already been written.
In many films (The Green Hornet included) Rogen’s profane immaturity brings things down. Here, it brings an odd kind of comforting warmth to the proceedings.
The feature is playing at Galaxy Cinemas at The Shops at Polson Park in Vernon.
Jason Armstrong is the longtime film reviewer for The Morning Star.