Saturday, October 22, 2011

50 / 50 (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

 50/ 50

Director Jonathan Levine delivers a romantic buddy comedy with a cancer theme. "50/ 50" is heartfelt and stirring in content and the chemistry between the two leads is bracing, even with the film's generic conventions.

"50/ 50" is based on the real life friendship between the film's writer Will  Reiser and Seth Rogen who co-stars and basically plays himself in the buddy role.

As Adam and Kyle, (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rogen) the two stars are at their best. They talk and converse, push and pull at each other and the friendship between them has a lively ease. What could have been uncomfortable or overly sentimentalized is given a fresh current with Rogen's characteristic glib dialogue.  With his smirk, his arched eyebrow and his politically incorrect charm, Rogen could  make Vlad the Impaler smile. Although the film, with its emphasis on sex and getting "laid" does seem like a hangover from other Judd Apatow comedies.  Yes it fits together fine with the plot, but it gets a little repetitive: Adam is the shy guy who never gets to do anything raunchy like pick up girls drunk. He is well meaning, and under Kyle's hapless tutelage, Adam blossoms. 

I expected a bit more unconventional, as this is supposed to be an indie kind of film, but to be fair, that part of the plot isn't important. The fun of the film comes across in the exchange between the two friends, often when they just sit in a car or at a party.

"50/ 50" would have been an even better film if it left out the romantic interest of Katie (Anna Kendrick) altogether and just focused on Adam and Kyle. Kendrick as a medical counselor with all her coyness and professional exterior is just a little too predictable with those reassuring pats and quick smiles. We already know she's going to score with Levitt. And the film even has a quiet version of a high school date of sorts but the way that scene ends will keep you guessing and the awkwardness was well done. 

The main pulse of the film always remains with Adam and Kyle. Their manner of ridicule and of lampooning something as sad as cancer as they lightly skewer everyone from Lance Armstrong to Patrick Swayze is a rare thing in a comedic film and the two get it right.

Not even death has a chance.

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