This movie had all the elements, in theory, to be awesome. It had a decent cast, i.e. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It had balls jokes in the trailer. Finally, it was written by Will Reiser, who had something to do with Da Ali G Show, which led me to believe it might be decent. I was prepared to be inspired by the heartwarming story of JGL overcoming cancer, while giggling at poop jokes made by Seth Rogen. I was sorely disappointed.
The overarching reason I hated this movie was that it tried to show something “true-to-life” in a way that got the details of real life completely wrong. (If you get the details wrong, it pulls me out of movieland and back to reality, where I am then free to judge mercilessly.)
Take the oncologist he sees, for example. The doctor has absolutely no people skills and won’t even look JGL in the eye when he’s talking to him. He only knows how to use extremely complex medical terminology that JGL can’t understand, and on top of all of that he brings JGL into a swanky office, with a desk between them, instead of, oh, I don’t know, an EXAM ROOM like most docs use, to diagnose him with the tumor. I know it’s popular in society to hate on doctors right now for having no empathy or compassion, because doctors are huge assholes who don’t give a shit about their patients, they go into it just to get rich and to have a personal stripper on speed dial, but come on. Think it through. What person would go through four years of medical school, incurring 6 digit debt, followed by 3-11 years of
slave labor training just for the money? And explain to me how after that 3-11 years of patient contact (not counting the 2 years in medical school) a person manages to escape without any people skills whatsoever? Hollywood just pisses me off with their portrayal of the medical community in general, and 50/50 did no better than most other films out there at capturing reality.
Jumping off of that, how exactly was his therapist a doctor? She introduced herself as doctor, then proceeded to say she was working on her dissertation and was under supervision (but where the hell was the supervisor) and oh shit, her office was awfully nice for a student. I’m pretty sure (positive, because I’ve seen one) that they just cram “students” or “residents” or whatever into any small crevice available, with old piece of shit furniture and no A/C controls, and you’re lucky if you get a window. I can guarantee that your supervisor would be present with your first patient. They don’t just let you run with it on your own, if they did they’d be personally responsible if that patient hurt himself or someone else. Luckily, JGL just decided to call her up and ask her out ON HER PERSONAL CELL PHONE NUMBER THAT SHE GAVE HIM!!!!!!!!! This probably does not outrage you as much as it does me, but I am married to a psychiatrist and you Never. Give. Out. Your. Personal. Phone. Number. Not to patients. Don’t do it. Horrible idea. They WILL call you, at all hours of the night, for emergencies like “I can’t sleep unless you give me more Xanax.”
Ok, enough with the ranting on the medical stuff. Let’s move on.
I really hated JGL’s character in this movie. He was totally spineless before the tumor literally ate up his spine, so honestly I didn’t give a crap if he got over cancer or not. I couldn’t sympathize with him. He let his girlfriend walk all over him and cheat on him with a stinky hippie; his friend had to bitch out his girlfriend for him because he didn’t have the balls to do it himself (did he also have cancer there?). At the end it seemed like somehow the cancer taught him to be more assertive, but if anything cancer would beat you down even more. I don’t buy that his growing tumor also magically grew his self-confidence.
The entire idea of a comedy about cancer is flawed to begin with. It’s an oxymoron. There’s nothing you can say to make cancer funny. Was I supposed to be lol’ing when JGL’s old man friend passed away (in the span of a week, when he previously looked perfectly healthy)? Was I supposed to be LMFAO when he was getting chemo? I just don’t get how the two fit together, and from what I saw, they didn’t. One of the only funny things in the movie was when he shaved his head with the balls trimmer, but the outcome was that JGL had a buzz cut, and all I could think after that was “JGL looks really ugly with a buzz cut.” JGL isn’t exactly the sexiest man in Hollywood, but I can usually fantasize about making sweet, sweet love to him during his movies. Like in Inception, where he was exceptionally well dressed during the entire film, had witty dialogue, and oh yeah, he had hair. 50/50 really cock-blocked me on this one.
I can’t write this review without mentioning the dog his cheating girlfriend gave him, Skeletor. WHAT THE FUCK? Did you see that dog? Did they starve that dog on set just to make the name Skeletor more fitting? I get that greyhounds are lanky dogs, they are runners, blah blah blah. But you are NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE ALL OF THEIR BONES. If you can, they are too skinny. Someone should call the ASPCA or PETA or something on them. I can’t find a picture to prove my point here but I remember being completely disgusted in the theater. A little ribs showing is one thing; seeing hip bones is absolutely too thin and I distinctly remember seeing hip bones.
I really wanted to like 50/50. Comedy about inappropriate subjects is right up my alley. But while the movie had some funny moments, overall it just didn’t feel real. I could never get sucked in to the movie’s world and get lost in the story. They made too many mistakes, in my opinion, for the movie to have any real heart.