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The Daily Tar Heel

Cancer movies usually lend themselves to inspirational messages laced with Sarah McLachlan jams on Lifetime. “50/50” avoids these steps and makes the disease all the more realistic.

The film focuses on Adam, a sweet 20-something radio show writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) diagnosed with a rare type of spinal cancer. While the title is referencing the odds of survival the doctor gives him, it could apply to the film’s tremendous balancing act of the humorous and the solemn.

Adam’s best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) tries to make light of the situation by using the cancer to score medicinal marijuana and meet girls, but Rogen’s sweet charm and honest verbosity override the possibility of obnoxiousness in the character and provides a friendly beacon of comedic optimism. As the movie progresses, shots of IV drips and Adam’s haggard face slowly replace the pot-induced laughs, and the cancer overtakes the movie’s humor.

Gordon-Levitt gracefully carries the audience into his character’s world of pain. Adam’s realization of his extinguished sex drive, frustration with his petrified mother (Anjelica Huston) and contemplations of death are performed without a lick of melodrama. It’s his overlooking of the unnecessarily sentimental that makes Adam relatable and much tougher to watch suffer.

Through convincing acting and an insightful script with pockets of hilarity, “50/50” makes the journey through cancer hurt, yet satisfy.

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