50/50 (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus was 50/50 about rewatching 50/50 but was glad he did in the end...
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen team up to beat the odds. Diagnosed with spinal cancer, 27-year-old Adam (Gordon-Levitt) navigates the road to recovery with the sometimes overbearing support of his crude best friend (Rogen), his smothering mother (Angelica Huston) and an inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick). Inspired by a true story, 50/50 is an honest yet hysterically funny account of a young man's journey toward healing.
The idea of a comedy about cancer isn't the sort of thing that gets moviegoers rushing out to watch a movie. The makers of 50/50 seem fully aware of this fact and this small comedy drama doesn't try to get flashy but keeps everything small and personal and focused on not only Adam's illness but the friends and family who surround him.
This is a very heartfelt project. Given the fact the story is loosely based on the screenwriter's own story and the two producers are his friends (more on that in the extras section) this story avoids feeling contrived and balances comedy and drama pretty much perfectly. Gordon-Levitt carries this wonderfully and you feel his frustrations and fears and genuinely worry about the guy in the film's bleakest moments. Rogan backs this up by playing his usual likeable self and has some really choice gags in here as he tries to help his friend as much as he can (his reaction to catching out Adam's cheating girlfriend is particularly great). In addition to that and a nice thoroughly felt sub plot in the story is Adam's mother, played extremely well by Angelica Houston who generates another quirky movie mother who expresses her concern for her sick son with heartbreaking results.
When I first saw 50/50 I liked it a lot but assumed I would probably not watch it again due to the fact picking a comedy about cancer off the shelf to watch would never be an option on my rewatch list. With that said, sitting down to watch this review copy was a very enjoyable experience. Strangely I zoned in to the dramatic elements a lot more here and really appreciated how well it's all woven in between the genuinely funny dialogue. 50/50 is a great flick that actually manages to keep a fairly positive attitude in a negative life situation without undermining any element of its subject matter and watching it again here for the second time really hammered the strength of the movie home.
The transfer here is quite typical of modern filmmaking. There's a digital cleanness to the image. Skintones can sometime feel a little tanned in warmly lit interior scenes but exterior scenes manage to look more natural. Being DVD there's a softness to the image but colours are pretty strong with blues and reds popping off the screen alongside some nice deep blacks. It's a transfer that looks like it would hold up much better in HD as the standard definition presentation here can suffer from a bit of colour bleed in the brighter scenes. Other than that issue, this transfer gets most things right.
The film is largely a small dramatic comedy with funny dialogue and no real reason to show off. The music choices are well presented and often very strong in the track. Everything else is crisp and clear and larger settings, such as streets and offices, provide a deeper feeling sound design with cars passing by and people going about their day offering a realistic feeling track.
The disc opens with trailers for Hunger Games, Warrior and Salmon Fishing in Yemen.
The commentary track with Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, Will Reiser, Ben Carlin, and Jonathan Levine talks about the story that inspired the film, Reiser's real life experience with cancer. The group discuss the fact the story was written during Reiser's illness even though in hindsight that is considered 'sick' by many. The light-hearted discussion between friends is a very easy listen with plenty of chuckles and like the film, the subject matter is approached with a nice balance of depth and chuckles. The deleted scenes (05:54) also come with optional commentary.
'The Story of 50/50' (07:35) has the screenwriter (Will Reiser) and the two producers (Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan) talking about the development of the project. The story is based on Reiser's own illness and the trio talk about how they reacted to the real life situation.
'Life Inspires Art' (08:53) has Reiser, Rogan and Goldberg on set for various scenes and they discuss further Reiser's cancer, his treatment and the time he spent with his friends. This is related to each scene in the movie and explains where the inspiration came from.
'Seek and Destroy' (02:16) focuses on the scene where Levitt and Rogan destroy a painting and not much else.
This, my second viewing of 50/50 really made my admiration for the film grow. It's a solid drama, with some solid laughs and manages to pull off both elements despite the subject matter generally being one that avoids promoting chuckles. The disc looks okay for DVD, sounds good and has a nice batch of extras, including a fun commentary giving more insight into the true story behind the film.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 26th March 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick
Genre: Comedy and Drama
Length: 95 minutes
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