The Collegian
Friday, August 14, 2020

Richmond at the Movies: 50/50

Since this will probably be the last movie review I write for "The Collegian," I'm deliriously relieved that I get to tell you about a very good film. I'm talking, of course, about "50/50."

Now, I don't know if many of you grew up on JGL material. As a refresher, you may remember him as one of the goofy aliens from "3rd Rock from the Sun" or one of the smitten teenagers in "10 Things I Hate About You." If you didn't, then he's the stoic guy from "Inception." And in "50/50" he plays a goody-goody guy who discovers that a cancer with an unpronounceable name may kill him.

This film was loosely based on the life of its screenwriter, Will Reiser. In Hollywood-speak, "loosely based" means that it may or may not have happened in the way it was or was not presented on the screen and the characters the actors portray may or may not be based on real people. But this film contains all the nuance you'd expect from a movie actually based on someone's life. Plus, Seth Rogen is friends with the screenwriter and essentially plays himself in the film, so no one's phoning in any performances here.

Let me tell you that I love character-driven movies, those meandering, unpretentious, unapologetically simple films that only infrequently feature explosions and gratuitous sex. If you don't want to feel sorry for a guy who is slowly getting sicker and trying not to let people overwhelm him with their concern, then this isn't the movie for you. You might feel more at ease watching a rerun of "Die Hard." But if you're open to a quiet, decent movie after films like "Drive" and "Moneyball," which I've started calling "Driving Jason Statham" and "Moneysnooze" to my friends, then go enjoy Seth Rogen as a decent best friend, Anna Kendrick as a nervous first-time psychiatrist and Anjelica Huston as one of those mothers who would stitch together bubble-wrap clothing if she could make you wear it.

The only two complaints I have about the movie involve personal bias. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the girlfriend who ends up betraying the guy with cancer. Her part is a small one and unfortunately one-dimensional. It would have been better if the character had been written as a person who just couldn't handle the stress of loving someone with cancer instead of the cliched naughty girlfriend. Also, since this was based on someone's life, I wish they would have given us a bit of real back story at the end, shown us pictures, etc. That always adds depth to a story, as far as I'm concerned.

Still, I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good story. And I would recommend "What's Your Number" to anyone who wants to see Anna Faris, Chris Evans -- or both -- naked.

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