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A 2011 movie directed by Jonathan Levine.

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I'll Take That Bet

  • Sep 17, 2011


Written by Will Reiser

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard and Anjelica Huston


Adam: I can’t remember being so calm in a long time.

Katie: Would you describe it as numbness?

Adam: No, I would describe it as fine.


Up and coming director, Jonathan Levine’s latest film, 50/50, is being billed as a cancer comedy, only I cried about five times so I’m not sure the descriptor really fits. 50/50 is writer, Will Reiser’s first hand account of what it was like to get cancer in his 20’s. Clearly, as he is still here to tell the tale, he lives through the ordeal, but knowing this does not take away from the personal journey he shares with us. And fortunately for all involved, that journey is being taken on screen by the always impressive, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who easily makes 50/50 a sure bet.


Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, whom we first meet jogging down the streets of Seattle at dawn. Instantly, while we watch him wait at a red light to cross an intersection despite any trace of traffic approaching, we know that Adam is cautious and self-aware. Even when he is told that he has cancer, he protests on the basis that he doesn’t smoke or drink and that he recycles. Adam follows the rules and yet is being inexplicably punished. Adam is not particularly original, as far as characters go, but his emotional path leaves the character so exposed and vulnerable that we are deeply endeared to him. Commendably, Reiser does not make us pity him but instead it feels like a rare and  honest account of his experience. For Gordon-Levitt to be able to open himself up to this kind of candidness only further proves that he is one of the most relatable young actors working today.


I felt I could know Adam, that he could be one of my friends. That one of my friends could go through this is foreign to me and fortunately, not something I’ve ever had to go through. As much as 50/50 is about Adam’s plight, the other half of it is about how the people around him learn to support him. From his best friend (Seth Rogen, playing a role based on himself, as he is also Reiser’s best friend in real life) to his mother (Anjelica Huston, making the most of her little screen time) to love interests both potential (Anna Kendrick) and exiting (Bryce Dallas Howard), everyone in his life stumbles through supporting him as if they were blindly walking into walls. Everyone is trying though, reminding us just how important intention really is, and 50/50 surely has the best of them.

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LUNCH rating is out of 10.

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September 20, 2011
Great review. I definitely want to see this one!
September 29, 2011
I keep trying to get as many people to see this as possible. Very cathartic experience.
September 18, 2011
Gordon-Levitt is a great actor, and I was wondering what this movie was all about. An 8/10 from you means that I should see this one. I am not sure if it is playing nearby though, but I'll add it to my list.
September 29, 2011
I'm sure this will hit a theatre near you this weekend. It's a pretty wide release. And yes, an 8 on 10 for me is a pretty safe bet. I hope you like!
More 50/50 reviews
review by . November 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The Odds Are Good That You Would Love This Film!
Movies that go into subjects that have a bleak premise such as dealing with a terminal disease are often easily dismissed as something that can be depressing and it is absolutely so easy to go into its human drama in a rather melodramatic and potentially heavy-handed way. I’ve seen many films that portray a terminal disease such as cancer and then take the premise to the limits of melodrama. Well, seems like director Jonathan Levine and writer Will Reiser’s “50/50” has done …
review by . October 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Losing several family members to cancer and with a spouse that has had her own battle, I just had to see this film. I was a little worried about having Seth Rogen in it (see my review of The Green Hornet) but even being his obnoxious self could spoil this excellent movie. Joseph Gorden-Levitt learns he has cancer and a very rare type that is growing in his spine and he must start immediate chemotherapy.    There is an immediate change in his girlfriend's behavior towards him …
review by . February 13, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    Screenwriters are no longer afraid of exploring a difficult subject such as cancer in one of their works. They know that cancer in cinema is a market in its own; just look at movies like "The Bucket List" and "The Ultimate Gift". People like watching movies like this; and that is precisely why they are made. However, the consumers seem oblivious to the fact that cancer screenwriting for profit is nothing more than shameless, exploitative cash-in. If you …
review by . October 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
“50/50” isn’t a movie about cancer. “50/50” isn’t a film about a bromance or how a family rallies together in the end despite their differences. Instead, “50/50” takes on the concept of how normal people react, whether positively or negatively, to one of the most tragic diseases of our time affecting someone with their entire life ahead of them. The movie comes from the perspective of Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a 27-year-old radio journalist …
review by . December 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
      Jonathan Levine seemed like he had to make a movie that will have to face different challenges for me to really appreciate it to the fullest. It had to find comedy in the darkest corners of someone's life and it had to embrace drama without harvesting hard for tears. What 50/50 does is exactly what I expected. Trashing me in my theater chair and refill my soul with joy and a beautiful state of catharsis. I love this film simply because it has balls to broke the patterns, …
review by . September 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Whenever dealing with heavy themes, it is always important to find a balance to the material. No one in Hollywood is afraid to laugh about terminal illness anymore, but too many laughs and you risk creating an uncomfortable audience, too few and you risk being a Hallmark television movie of the week. Will Reiser is able to take a frightening part of his life and keep the audience smiling while sharing his heartfelt story of survival. 50/50 is a perfect balance of humor and heart to create …
review by . September 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'50/50' 'Two Jews On Film' Cheer This Beautiful Heartfelt Dramedy (Video)
A doctor tells a young man he has cancer - a tumor.  The man replies 'Tumor...Me?' The doctor says 'yes'.  The man responds...'That's impossible...I don't smoke...I don't drink...I recycle.'      The young man is Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and he not only has cancer...but he has a super rare cancer...a giant tumor growing along his spine and his chances are...50-50.       So …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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