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

    No More Space Race for US, Rivalry Gives Way to Collaboration

    What began as a struggle for dominance in space between two world powers has changed entirely to one of joint efforts

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    How the first generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand, might change America

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora