[4.0 stars] 50/50 (2011) on IMDb

[Amazon Link]

True fact: when you Google "50/50", the first result is Google's calculator, telling you that 50/50 = 1. I knew that.

The movie, however, is billed as a "comedy/drama" about young Adam's struggle with the big C, a nasty tumor along his spine; 50/50 are the approximate odds of Adam's survival. (Adam is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who's kind of turning into a major talent.) It's a straightforward story, with a host of supporting characters. Kyle is Adam's buddy, notable for his efforts to use Adam's illness as a device to pick up chicks. Kyle is played by Seth Rogen; most of the movie's R rating (for "language throughout, sexual content and some drug use") are due to his efforts.

In addition, there's Adam's shrink, Katherine (Anna Kendrick), who's well-meaning but hilariously inept at her job; Adam's girlfriend Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard); Adam's mom (Anjelica Huston); two old dudes who are in Adam's chemotherapy sessions (Matt Frewer and Philip Baker Hall).

That is all some serious acting talent, and they are working from a smart script written by an actual cancer survivor. Especially worth watching is Anna Kendrick, who plays her role exactly right, with subtlety and intelligence. She is also extremely easy on the eyes. (I'd forgotten she had an Oscar nomination for Up in the Air. She deserved one here too.)

Mrs. Salad refused to watch this, not finding anything remotely funny about cancer. She's not wrong, but the humor here resides with the characters, and they make it work.

And there's the little nagging question: if I were in that situation, could I have handled it this well? Probably not.

Last Modified 2012-09-24 4:58 AM EDT