News / USA

    '50/50' Finds Comedy in Cancer

    Inspired by real-life experiences of writer Will Reiser and long-time friend Seth Rogen

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt (left) and Seth Rogen star in "50/50," a comedy about cancer.
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt (left) and Seth Rogen star in "50/50," a comedy about cancer.
    Alan Silverman

    Hollywood movies usually approach illness, especially cancer, with reverence and fear. But the new film, "50/50," succeeds in finding the comedy that can go along with a dire diagnosis.

    Adam is in his mid-twenties, with a life of possibilities ahead of him, when he is diagnosed with a rare cancerous tumor. His best friend Kyle, at first shocked by the news, tries to help Adam find the silver lining.

    "What are your odds?" Kyle asks.

    "I don't know. I looked it up and it said 50-50, but that's the Internet," Adam replies.

    "It's not that bad," Kyle says. "If you were a casino game, you would have the best odds."

    WATCH: Penelope Poulou's related story on "50/50"

    Through radiation, chemotherapy and eventually surgery, Adam discovers much about himself and his relationships, as his life takes an often absurd and darkly-comic turn.

    "50/50" is drawn from the real-life experiences of writer Will Reiser, whose cancer was discovered when he was 25. He was helped through it by longtime friend Seth Rogen.

    While the script they wrote together finds comedy in unexpected places, Reiser insists the jokes are not about cancer.

    "We're not making fun of cancer. I'm making fun of the way in which people deal with it," Reiser says. "Seth and I didn't know how to talk about it. We would make fun of each other for not knowing how to properly deal with it. There are highs and there are lows, and sometimes the only thing you can do is just laugh and make fun of the situation."

    Rogen has starred in several outrageous and successful comedies including "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year Old Virgin. In "50/50," he plays the oddly supportive best friend and admits that there is a certain shock value to combining cancer with comedy.

    Bryce Dallas Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50."
    Bryce Dallas Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in "50/50."

    "There is a school of thought that the less comedic an idea inherently is, the more creatively ambitious it is to try to make it comedic …especially without sacrificing the integrity of the subject," says Rogen. "But honestly we made this movie because it happened to us. If it hadn't, we probably wouldn't have. No part of us was saying we have to make a cancer comedy."

    Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who stars as Adam, was attracted by the honesty of the characters navigating a sensitive situation.

    "Adam ends up comforting the people in his life, maybe a little more than they comfort him. Everyone sort of freaks out and he has to be the one who says 'Are you okay? I'm sorry that this is happening to you,'" Gordon-Levitt says. "I guess when crises like this come up, you see what is underlying any relationship, whether it is his relationship with his girlfriend or his best friend or his parents or the people that he works with. It kind of brings to the surface whatever is bubbling underneath."

    Directed by Jonathan Levine, the "50/50" cast features Anjelica Huston as Adam's overprotective mom; Bryce Dallas Howard as the less-than-supportive girlfriend; and Anna Kendrick is the inexperienced therapist trying to help him cope with something that is way beyond anything either of them has ever experienced.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora