50/50 (2011 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jonathan Levine|
|Written by||Will Reiser|
|Music by||Michael Giacchino|
|Edited by||Zene Baker|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Running time||100 minutes|
50/50 is a 2011 American comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Levine, from a screenplay written by Will Reiser, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, with Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Serge Houde, Philip Baker Hall, Matt Frewer, and Anjelica Huston in supporting roles. The film is loosely inspired by Reiser's own experience with cancer. The film received positive feedback from critics, and was a success at the box office, earning $39.1 million against an $8 million budget.
Adam Lerner (Gordon-Levitt) is a 27-year-old public radio journalist in Seattle with an artist girlfriend Rachael (Howard), of whom his best friend and co-worker Kyle (Rogen) disapproves.
After experiencing harsh pains in his back, Adam learns from his doctor that he has schwannoma neurofibrosarcoma (a malignant tumor) in his spine, and must undergo chemotherapy. He sees on the Internet that his chances of survival are fifty-fifty. After Adam reveals his diagnosis, his overbearing mother, Diane (Huston), who already cares for a husband Richard (Houde) suffering from Alzheimer's, wants to move in and care for him. Adam rejects this offer, as Rachael has promised to be the one to take care of him. Rachael, however, is "uncomfortable" going into the hospital during Adam's chemo treatments. Later, Kyle sees Rachael kissing another man at an art gallery, and tells Adam that Rachael is cheating on him. Adam and Rachael break up. Throughout Adam's struggle, Kyle attempts to keep Adam's spirits high, which include helping Adam shave his head prior to chemotherapy and suggesting that Adam use his illness as a way to pick up women.
Meanwhile, Adam skeptically begins going to a young and inexperienced therapist, Katherine McKay (Kendrick), at the hospital. Although their relationship and sessions have a rocky start, he slowly begins to open up to her about his disease and how it is affecting him. The two develop a rapport both in and outside of their sessions, as the lines between doctor-patient and friends begin to blur. She helps Adam understand his mother's situation as well. During chemo treatments, Adam also befriends Alan (Hall) and Mitch (Frewer), two older cancer patients who are also undergoing chemotherapy.
After Mitch suddenly dies, Adam's fears become more evident upon hearing that his treatment is not working and that he needs to undertake a risky surgery as a last resort. The night before his surgery, Adam has an argument with Kyle and demands to drive Kyle's car because Kyle is drunk—even though Adam does not have a driver's license. After nearly causing an accident, Adam breaks down and criticizes Kyle for seemingly not taking his illness seriously. Adam calls Katherine and tells her that he wishes he had a girlfriend like her, but also says he is tired and just wants it to be over. That night, Adam stays at Kyle's and finds a book on surviving cancer, filled with notes and turned-down pages, proving that Kyle does care for Adam and is worried for him.
The next day when Kyle drops Adam off at the hospital, Adam embraces Kyle for being a good friend and apologizes for what he said the previous night. After Adam says what could be his final farewells to his family, he undergoes his surgery. After the surgery, Kyle, Diane, and Katherine are told by the doctor that although the bone degradation was worse than they had thought, the tumor was removed successfully, and that Adam would recover.
Some time later, Adam is getting ready for a date, with Kyle encouraging him and cleaning the incision on Adam's back from the surgery. The doorbell rings and Adam lets Katherine inside. After Kyle leaves, Katherine asks, "Now what?," and Adam simply smiles.
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam Lerner
- Seth Rogen as Kyle Hirons
- Anna Kendrick as Katherine McKay
- Bryce Dallas Howard as Rachael
- Anjelica Huston as Diane Lerner
- Serge Houde as Richard Lerner
- Andrew Airlie as Dr. Ross
- Matt Frewer as Mitch Barnett
- Philip Baker Hall as Alan Lombardo
- Donna Yamamoto as Dr. Walderson
- Sugar Lyn Beard as Susan
- Yee Jee Tso as Dr. Lee
- Sarah Smyth as Jenny
- Peter Kelamis as Phil
- Jessica Parker Kennedy as Jackie
- Daniel Bacon as Dr. Phillips
- P. Lynn Johnson as Bernie
- Laura Bertram as Claire
- Matty Finochio as Ted
- Veena Sood as Nurse Stewart
- Lauren Miller as Bodie
Development and production
The screenplay is loosely based on the experience of screenwriter Will Reiser, friend of the film's co-lead, Seth Rogen. Reiser is also close with Evan Goldberg of Da Ali G Show. The film was originally going to be called I'm with Cancer before it was announced that this was a working title. The film was later renamed Live with It and then 50/50.
James McAvoy was originally going to play the lead role before he left the film due to personal reasons, as he was afraid of missing the birth of his first child, and was replaced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Principal photography was scheduled from February 22, 2010 to March 31, 2010. The film was mostly filmed in Richmond and Vancouver, British Columbia as well as Seattle, Washington.
The head-shaving scene in the film was featured on the movie posters and commercials. At the 50/50 premiere in New York, Gordon-Levitt said, "We only had one take because you can't shave your head twice." Rogen recalled, "It was the first day of filming, and we improvised the whole thing, which is not wise when it's something you have one take for, but it turned out funny."
50/50 was acclaimed by critics upon release. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of 180 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.6 out of 10. Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 72 based on 42 reviews, with the general consensus being "A good-hearted film about a difficult topic, 50/50 maneuvers between jokes and drama with surprising finesse".
Sean Burns wrote in the Philadelphia Weekly that Levine "knows how to stay out of the way long enough to let a very talented cast shine, and Rogen's fundamental, unexpected decency, which can often only be expressed through shoulder-punching obscenities, grows more quietly moving as the picture wears on."
David Schmader, writing in the Stranger, praises "'50/50's stellar cast, from the omnipresent lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt (whose Rankin/Bass puppet face is put to beautifully nuanced use) to the all-star supporting cast: Anjelica Huston roars back to prominence with a twisty performance as Adam's barely contained mess of a mom, and Anna Kendrick's young doctoral student makes the film's rom-com aspirations not-ridiculous with her intelligent spontaneity and huge cute teeth. But the comedy star is Seth Rogen, cast in the same role he played in screenwriter Reiser's life."
The film was nominated for two awards at the 69th Golden Globe Awards. Gordon-Levitt received a nomination for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy) and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy).
Some fans of the film were surprised at the film's lack of an Academy Award nomination. Seth Rogen addressed this in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying he predicted that it wouldn't be nominated, saying that he knows for a fact that "some people are appalled by the movie." He said of this, "I think it must be people who have very, very personal connections to the subject matter and just can't emotionally disconnect from their own experience. I respect that. But what we found for the most part is that people like to laugh at tragedy. It makes them feel better."
Top ten lists
The film was included in the following top ten lists for the best films of 2011:
|The Boston Globe||2|
|New York Post||10|
|Tampa Bay Times||5|
- "'50/50' (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2011-08-26. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- Kaufman, Amy (September 29, 2011). "Movie Projector: Holdovers likely to beat '50/50,' 'Dream House'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- "50/50 (2011)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- "Gordon-Levitt, Reiser Tackle '50/50' Odds". NPR.org. September 9, 2011. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- Stewart, Andrew (February 17, 2011). "Summit firms date, title for Seth Rogen dramedy". Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2012.
- "Joseph Gordon-Levitt Replaces James McAvoy In I'm With Cancer". CinemaBlend.com. March 2, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
- "Box office / business for '50/50'". IMDb. Amazon.com. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- Wilkinson, Amy. "Seth Rogen Says '50/50' Head-Shaving Scene Was Improvised". MTV. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- "50/50". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixter. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- "50/50". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Burns, Sean (September 28, 2011). "'50/50' Makes Dying a Laughing Matter". Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
- "Jonathan Levine's '50/50'". MUBI.com. September 29, 2011.
- EOL Staff (December 15, 2011). "Complete List of Nominations for 69th Annual Golden Globes". E!. NBCUniversal. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Christian Blauvelt (2012-01-25). "Seth Rogen predicted '50/50' Oscar snub". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2013-10-10.
- Goodykoontz, Bill. "The 10 best movies of 2011". Arizona Republic. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Lemire, Christy (December 20, 2011). "AP writers pick the top 10 films of 2011". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Erbland, Kate. "Boxoffice's Critics Pick the Best Films of 2011". BoxofficeMagazine.com. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- "Best Movies Of 2011". MTV. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Neumaier, Joe. "'Tree of Life' or 'The Artist'? 'Hugo' or 'The Descendant'? Critics duel over best movies of 2011 list". Daily News (New York). Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Smith, Kyle. "Kyle Smith's best movies of the year". New York Post. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Chen, David. "Dave's Top 10 Movies of 2011". /Film. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Steve Persall. "2011 was bright year in filmmaking for Tampa Bay". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- "The Best Movies of 2011". TV Guide. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Puig, Claudia. "USA TODAY movie critic Claudia Puig's top 10 movies for 2011". USA Today. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- "50/50 Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
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- Official website
- 50/50 at the Internet Movie Database
- 50/50 at AllMovie
- 50/50 at Rotten Tomatoes
- 50/50 at Metacritic
- 50/50 at Box Office Mojo