The best moment in “50/50” occurs when Adam, the character played by Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, is about to go into surgery for the cancer that has wrapped itself around his spine. Up until that moment, we’ve seen Adam resist the support offered by his overprotective mother, nicely portrayed by Anjelica Huston. But when the doctor tells the family that it is time to begin the procedure, Adam breaks down and in that moment reverts to being a little boy who is hurt and needs his mommy.
But that’s hardly the only good moment in the movie, which was much better than I expected. Parts of it are laugh out loud funny, but it never feels unreal, or as if it is making fun or light of its serious subject matter. Gordon-Leavitt is terrific as Adam, and Seth Rogen turns in a patented “funny and inappropriate” Seth Rogen-type performance (as opposed to an “annoying and inappropriate” Seth Rogen-type performance) as Adam’s longtime best friend. Also quite good are Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as a couple of cynical old guys that Adam meets during his chemotherapy sessions. Rounding out the primary cast, Anna Kendrick plays a cute therapist in training who bears a lot of similarities to the cute young professional she played in “Up in the Air,” and (in another type-casting alert) Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam’s less than sympathetic girlfriend. But both are very good, so you won’t hear me complaining too loudly.
He's been good in everything that I've seen him in, but based solely on "50/50," I get the feeling that Gordon-Leavitt is going to be one of those guys who is around for quite a while.