50/50

I hate to cry. It is not something I enjoy and it is not always seen as a catharsis for me. At one time, I cried a lot, sometimes for no good reason. Other times, it was because I was very sensitive to films that try to pull at your emotions in order to get a response. I have since toughened up and have become weary of films that want to make me cry. In fact I have come to hate those films with a passion that involves massive bonfires in my head. (I would never want to censor anyone in real life, but that doesn’t mean I can’t fantasize about it.) It is rare that a film brings me to tears and I like it. This is one of those rare films.

If you have been paying attention at all to recent film releases, then you would be pretty familiar with this film’s premise of cancer striking a young man and the fact it was based on a true story. I don’t want to get into that, because I feel like that has been beaten to death when it comes to this film. What I want to talk about is the universal truths that are expressed in this film as embodied by several characters.

The first truth is friendship. Although at first it seems like Seth Rogan’s character is a flaky asshole, he grows to be the anchor that Adam can count on. I love the scene where Adam and Seth are sitting in his living room surrounded by pot when his ex-girlfriend stops by to get a few things. She is amazed that Adam would ever do such a thing and Seth exclaims that he was the one who got the medical marijuana because Adam was too chicken to get one although he would have a legitimate reason to. It is a comedic moment, but it also describes their relationship. Seth is willing to do anything for Adam in order to help him through his cancer and if that means his name goes on a list of marijuana users, then so be it.

Many people like the performances of Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as the fellow chemotherapy patients that Adam encounters. I think they are great as reminders of the possible fate that awaits Adam and how he could deal with it. They accept that they have cancer and use it as an excuse to eat as many pot filled cookies as possible. They joke around and hang out with each other. They lean on each other until one of them dies which is inevitable given their disease. It is quite beautiful.

Anna Kendrick played Adam’s psychologist. She is a student trying to complete her thesis and Adam becomes her second ever patient. She is just figuring out how to connect with someone on a professional level without getting involved emotionally and it is very hard for her. In fact it becomes impossible for her in the case of Adam at least. She shows so much sympathy for what he is going through that she turns out to be the few people he can turn to. The opposite could be said for his girlfriend who runs away once it becomes ugly.

There are several moments in this film where I laughed and there are several where I cried. Not one moment gets precedent over the other, because I think this is a strong film all the way through. I can’t wait to see something else from Will Reiser.

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