50/50

Jonathan Levine directed The Wackness (2008), a superior small film that was only able to cover half of its estimated $6 million budget through ticket sales. Levine's 50/50 is another terrific small-ish motion picture that I'm confident will do much better. For one thing, unlike the earlier flick, 50/50 has Seth Rogen's rapscallion vulgarity to draw boorish guys into what is ostensibly a Lifetime chick flick for dudes. For another thing, the film is a study in human resilience.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the most engagingly intelligent actors who is not a major box office draw, is Adam, a young public radio producer in Seattle who receives a cancer diagnosis that does little to change his demeanor. You see, he's so inurred to life's dissatisfactions and disappointments that when he tells his disbelieving therapist that he's at ease, you really believe him.

Rogen plays Adam's best friend and co-worker Kyle who has his own detachment issues, and Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam's self-involved artist girlfriend. (Between her roles in this film and in The Help, Howard's 2011 has been the Year of the Bitch.)

The lovely Anna Kendrick, who was so striking in Up in the Air opposite George Clooney, is marvelous as Adam's untrained and unprepared but totally winning therapist. Kendick's scenes with Gordon-Levitt alone are worth the price of admission and are studies in wounded guardedness as romance.

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