cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Angelica Huston
The second film in which Seth Rogen plays the sidekick of a guy who gets cancer, that being the drowsy FUNNY PEOPLE a few years back, and the second time is a charm. Thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who shows the right amount of shocked melancholy while he suffers through chemotherapy, the prolonged breakup of his shallow girlfriend, and an impending surgery that could take his life, this is a lightweight take on a heavy subject that’s both funny and emotionally satisfying. Rogen, as Levitt’s buddy who realizes cancer is a great way to pick up on chicks, is a bit too forced into the comic relief department – almost every word spoken is meant for a laugh, and his character rarely gets an opportunity to shine past the caustic rants. Angelica Huston plays Levitt’s neurotic mother, causing stress to her ailing son, but the real depth comes from his relationship with love interest Anna Kendrick as a hospital student shrink, first using Levitt as a case study but eventually – as the two bond outside the office – falling in love. Their relationship makes the movie work, while the buddy/buddy between Rogen and Levitt give routine breaks from the serious underbelly. And as breezy soundtrack tunes provide an out before things get morose, and drugs (both medicinal and recreational) turn gloomy roads into shiny avenues way too easily, it’s Levitt alone, whose character is melancholy even before the diagnosis, that makes even the filler moments work: he really seems to be facing a grave future while trying to beat those 50/50 odds.