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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora