50/50 is a surprisingly uplifting romantic comedy about a likeable young radio journalist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who discovers he has cancer — an affliction that changes his relationships with his self-absorbed girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), overbearing mother (Anjelica Huston) and oafish best buddy (Seth Rogen).
The diagnosis also brings him into contact with a cute if inexperienced doctor (Anna Kendrick). She wants to help him psychologically, and in other ways, too.
Levitt and Kendrick are subtle, sweet and intelligent enough to compensate for the faint misogyny of the script and the crassness of Rogen’s contribution, which is blatantly an attempt to play to opening-weekend teenagers.
Will Reiser’s semi-autobiographical script leans over backwards and in every other direction to find the positive aspects of cancer, and discovers a few truths that offset the usual cliches of cancer weepies.
It’s no masterpiece, and Jonathan Levine’s direction has the flatness of TV. All the same, it’s cute, even for people who are well; and to those unfortunate enough to have a potentially terminal illness, it could be inspirational.