50/50 | Chicago Reader

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Rated R · 99 minutes

Comedy, Comedy drama, Dark comedy, Drama
Young people battling cancer aren't exactly a staple of movie comedy, but this nervy project from director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) mines a remarkable number of laughs from the situation. A mild-mannered editor for a public radio station (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns that he's dying of a rare spinal tumor, news that elicits less-than-noble responses from his sweetheart (Bryce Dallas Howard) and best pal (Seth Rogen). Skilled in both comedy ((500) Days of Summer) and harsh drama (Manic), Gordon-Levitt is one of the few 20-something actors who could pull off a role like this one, and screenwriter Will Reiser wisely focuses less on the specter of death than on the awkward personal situations it creates. The fear, anger, and despair of terminal illness never really pierce through the movie's easygoing vibe, which becomes a problem in the second half especially, but for the most part this is fresh, sincere, and inquisitive. With Anna Kendrick and Anjelica Huston.

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