One of the best films of 2011 came in the form of a cancer dramedy directed by young filmmaker Jonathan Levine and starring Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 50/50 hits all the right notes as it walks the fine line of being a hilarious comedy and an emotional drama. It’s authentic, honest and it makes for one hell of a film. The film is anchored by its heart-felt performance by JGL, but Rogen, Kendrick and the rest of the supporting cast help make the ensemble team feel just as important. Levine knows how to find the strengths in his actors and shape-shift the film into a cluster of emotions.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young, risk-free man that works in the public radio industry, doesn’t drink or smoke and recycles. He has a steady girlfriend named Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) and a loudmouth best friend named Kyle (Seth Rogen) that constantly push him to do things he wouldn’t normally do. His life is for the most part boring, until he discovers an ache in his back, which leads to a doctor visit, which leads to the devastating news of finding out he has a form of cancer.
After discovering the news he takes turns breaking it gently to his girlfriend, best friend and parents. Adam begins chemotherapy and starts to deal with life in a new light. 50/50 isn’t just about dealing with cancer and the pain it brings; it’s about learning the value of life, friends and family. It’s about finding who and what truly means the most to you. It’s an inspiring film that captures such authentic honesty like never before.
Director Jonathan Levine continues to show impressive skill as a director, following up his coming-of-age story The Wackness, with the cancer comedy/drama 50/50. He has an eye for approaching stories with a relatable eye, capturing those tiny, detailed moments of truth. 50/50 successfully manages to be another funny Seth Rogen comedy, plus a film that isn’t afraid to get serious and deal with the touchy topic of cancer. It offers viewers a truthful insight on the situation, being written by Will Reiser, which the story was loosely based upon.
Every single aspect of the film is perfect. Jonathan Levine‘s direction is well-balanced and cut at just the right moments to keep the jokes coming one minute and the tears rolling the next. Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s performance is easily a career best for him, showing a wide array of talent and Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick‘s supporting roles provide Levitt’s character with people to bounce off/discuss all of his feelings and emotions that the cancer is stirring up. You couldn’t ask for a better cast or crew to bring the story to life.
I’m not sure how much more good I can say about 50/50. I was lucky enough to catch it this past summer when it first started screening and from that very moment I couldn’t stop praising the film. It holds up extremely well on repeat viewings and is slowly becoming a film I can’t stop recommending to friends, family and co-workers.
Check out my full review of 50/50 right here.
The 1080p video transfer for 50/50 is natural, sharp and full of well-balanced detail. For being a comedy the film holds up very strong on the Blu-Ray. Detail is constantly sharp with not a single spec of grain or noise. The exterior shots are equally impressive, with the overcast skies of Seattle providing great visuals to help ease the mood of the film. This is the type of film that should be used to convince someone to switch to Blu-Ray. The video feels fresh, bright and great to look at. There are a few spotty shots where the black’s get a little washed over, but I doubt most will even notice.
There’s not much to hear in the films 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, but its dynamic enough to hold your attention. The films soundtrack is full of some great songs that come into the film at evenly paced intervals. This is a dialogue heavy film, but that doesn’t keep the back channels from chiming in every so often with occasional ambiance. Most might find the track to be too tame for their audio setup, but it’s actually an impressive spread of sound on all of the channels.
50/50 comes with various short features that are actually really interesting to watch. They mostly discuss the story the films based upon, but they also give lots of credit to the rest of the cast and crew that helped make the film memorable. Here’s a full list of features below.
- Audio Commentary with Seth Rogen, Ben Karlin, Evan Goldberg, Will Reiser and Jonathan Levine
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- The Story of 50/50 (HD)
- Life Inspires Art (HD)
- Seek and Destroy (HD)
50/50 is without a doubt one of the best films of 2011 and sadly it only got nominated for a couple of Golden Globes. It’s films like this that deserve Oscar attention, but get shoved out the way due to more popular actors or “more appropriate” content and that’s fine because I’m more then positive the film will find an audience. It’s a strong piece of work by the very talented Jonathan Levine that features some outstanding performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick.
The Blu-Ray maintains the films natural look and feel, with a rich video transfer and an appropriate lossless audio track. The bonus content is good material that allows you to kill an extra 25 minutes after the films over. My only complaint is the lack of features, because with a project like this you’d think they’d be able to round up some more footage or behind-the-scenes stuff. Also, Summit doesn’t even throw in a DVD or digital copy of the film, which feels odd considering most films are coming with them.
Those are minor flaws for an incredible film though. This one is worth the blind buy if you haven’t seen it and it’s a definite purchase if you have seen it. The replay value is strong and the presentation matches the film in terms of quality. Buy this one as soon as you can and thank me later.