Director: Jonathan Levine
Writer: Will Reiser
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick
Motion Picture Rating: 15
Runtime: 100 minutes
This is the story of a 27 year old man (called Adam and played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who develops life threatening cancer aged 27. It is the story of his battle with cancer, his interactions with a young female therapist and the wide-ranging reactions of his friends and family. As such this is hardly mainstream Hollywood fair, but the film has a wholesome, Cineplex friendly cast and the production design of a regular American drama / comedy. Clearly the film makers wanted to make a film on a difficult subject, but open it up to the widest audience possible. That is commendable. However, it is a big task and 50:50 ultimately fails.
In going mainstream and targeting a mass audience, quite a few proven elements have been thrown into the mix here. Seth Rogen, as best friend Kyle, plays the same role that he did in Knocked-Up. Anna Kendrick, as the inexperienced therapist, plays the same role that she had in Up in the Air. Adam’s dysfunctional family is all a bit Little Miss Sunshine and the soundtrack (with Radiohead, Roy Orbison and Eddie Vedder) could have come from any Cameron Crowe movie. And then there is Adam and Kyle, yet another twenty-something bromance. Gordon-Levitt and Rogen act very well together in this, but I kept waiting for Paul Rudd to turn up.
There are some genuinely funny and touching moments in this film and it rattles along nicely enough. The sequences with Adam and two older cancer sufferers are very well done and the supporting cast is talented (including Angelica Huston and Philip Baker Hall). This is not a bad film, but it does not really work and I walked away from it slightly unsure of my feelings towards it. It has its heart in the right place and the actors put a lot into it, but it still doesn’t deliver enough for me.