50/50 is a remarkably light and at the same time an unflinching look at what cancer does to relationships, best encapsulated by a character’s admission during a tender moment, “I’m peeing right now.” Heartfelt without succumbing to saccharine moments (Levitt’s character actually begins his cancer reveal to his parents, “Have you ever seen ‘Terms of Endearment’?”, signaling this film is definitely not striving to be a carbon copy of that.), the film worked for me with a combination of real moments, laugh-out-loud humor, and actors who have real chemistry.
I know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan got top billing, and their bromance is well-executed, but the scenes between cancer patient Levitt and his newbie therapist Anna Kendrick absolutely carry the film. And this isn’t a Taster’s Choice support group between men, as in, say, “Good Will Hunting”, but two young kids not quite sure of how to do this. Levitt is Kendrick’s *third* patient ever, and she’s only a doctorate candidate. While she gives some plainly blunt great advice, she admits she’s terrified of screwing up her job, because that means screwing up someone’s life. Their mutual awkwardness transgresses the therapist-patient line in very believable and sincere ways. You’re rooting for them to shelf the boundaries from minute one, because they so clearly have a real chemistry on screen. It doesn’t help that Levitt is his usual affably charming self, and Kendrick is about as cute as can be.
I’d even think about picking it up on DVD.