Film Review: 50/50

If you know Seth Rogen, as I do (if not in the “Biblical” sense, then at least in the “I’ve seen a few movies he’s been in” kind of way), then you know the guy’s a bit of a potty mouth. He grabs an already vulgar thing and then adds his own nasty Canadian flavor to make it worse (being 50% Canadian, I can say that), taking the utterly unprecedented (insert sarcasm here) comedic tack of shattering any and all rules of propriety in the process.

Rogen is one gross dude, that’s for sure... but he does it with such a jolly grin and kindly demeanor that you still can’t help but like the guy. You end up believing he is not doing it because he is a gross guy, but rather because he wants you to have the pleasure of believing there’s someone out there who is as perverse as you are on the inside – someone willing to actually come out and say the things that you, at your worst, sometimes think. He makes himself the fool, so you can laugh and feel yourself a sage.

In 50/50, Rogen plays Kyle, the foolish foil to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s straight man. JGL is perfect as Adam, a guy dealing with a particularly nasty cancer prognosis, and together they are a match made in comedic heaven. It works. Not only is it a very funny movie (don’t take your mom, though, or you’ll be ashamed you laughed), but it also hits a range of other notes as well, bringing the viewer all along the scale, from laughter through to tears.

Through it all, Rogen is, well, “roguish,” indulging in the sort of dirty, low-brow humor we have come to expect of our northern friend. It is a self-aware vulgarity, however, that digs past the surface and into the heart of the matter, affirming such virtues as honesty, transparency, and above all, loyalty and love in the face of adversity.

In the end, Rogen’s character comes off as not so much a fool, but rather a moral center for the whole ordeal. And although his own moral choices may perhaps be suspect, we are left with the understanding that when it comes down to it, abiding love is far more important than appropriate behavior.

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Article first published as Movie Review: 50/50 on Blogcritics.

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