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Movie Review: film ‘pulls at every heart string’

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As a child star, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was unassumingly seeing angels on the baseball field next to stars like Christopher Lloyd, Tony Danza and Danny Glover. Since “(500) Days of Summer” hit the world in 2009 with Levitt at the helm, it seems he can do no wrong. His latest release, “50/50”, continues this trend of stupendous movies.

Levitt’s new role is as Adam, a young radio program producer who is suddenly and unexpectedly struck with a rare form of cancer, which has developed as a mass on his spine. Based on a true story, Adam’s journey to battle this affliction is touching, emotional and heart-warming.

Levitt has a gift for being completely transparent in his acting. He’s seamlessly stepped into all of his latest roles and doesn’t disappoint this time around. Adam is an average guy with an average best friend, an average, if not very attractive, girlfriend and relatively average parents.

This average situation is exactly what makes the film so attractive. Levitt is this everyday man – just like you – and he gets cancer. It can happen to anyone, and you won’t forget. “50/50” offers one of the first real looks at someone getting cancer. Up until now, it seems it’s always about an older person or it’s drawn into this sappy, cry-your-eyes-out drama.

Instead, the message from “50/50” says, “Hey, cancer happens – this is how we actually deal with it.”

Levitt presents this concept extremely well. He looks goofy when he’s crying – not because he’s acting, but because everyone does. He perfectly plays the young, fledgling, awkward-relationship-with-his-parents-because-they-still-miss-him homeowner. He brings to the table what a young person dealing with fragility might put up with in regard to concerned friends and family.

Funny-man Seth Rogan plays Adam’s goofy best friend Kyle. He’s at Levitt’s corner at every turn, acting as both a humorous and honest friend. Nobody is pushing this film as a comedy, which is a bit unusual for Rogan, but he shows that he can fit into some different shoes. Just like that guy you knew in high school, Kyle is surprisingly going the extra mile for Adam but keeping it light at the same time.

Hollywood sweetheart Anna Kendrick stars as Adam’s psychiatrist Katherine as he deals with the trauma of being diagnosed with cancer. Some may remember her from the Twilight movies, but if you’re of a more mature audience, perhaps you remember her from the 2010 film “Up in the Air,” starring alongside George Clooney.

While it’s easy to say that Kendrick is simply playing the same character, you have to admit she does it rather well. She offers both a flustered and fresh attitude and that charming smile. The role fits her well because Katherine is new at her job. Anyone with experience may have been a stretch for Kendrick.

The film is based on a true story, and it’s pulling at every heart-string. From Adam’s dad with Alzheimer’s disease to the slips and slides that still happen in life even when you have cancer, this film brings it all and brings it hard. It has the potential to be a crier, but brings with it a genuine story and terrific acting.

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1 Comment

  1. Jason Crenshaw October 9, 2011

    Great movie. Great review. I thought it would be ridiculously terrible with Seth Rogen, but he proved me wrong. Incredibly talented cast with genuine emotions and all.

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