When I first downloaded the just-released poster for the upcoming movie 50/50 (left), the image came up on my phone screen jumbo-sized. The only thing I could see was Seth Rogen’s face/classic stupid expression. It made me chortle. But when I zoomed out and saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a 20-something cancer patient struggling with his diagnosis, shaving his head and clearly having an emotional moment, my face fell. I think that’s pretty representative of what my reactions will be throughout the entire movie.
Tackling cancer with humor requires a tricky balance. The Big C does it very elegantly, but what particularly interests me about 50/50 is that Gordon-Levitt and Rogen are going to attract a younger crowd, who, much like the characters in the movie, don’t often view cancer as a threat to their age group.
Prior to working at EW, I was writing feature stories for a newspaper near my home town. One day, I found myself working on a story about an uninsured 20-something guy who was battling Leukemia with the help of his family and closest friends. In the time I spent with them — in particular, his knuckle-headed group of buddies — they often swapped stories about their many adventures before their friend was sick, the time when they thought they were invincible. But after his diagnosis, they had to learn how to grow up and help their friend with sometimes awkward tasks like going to the bathroom or bathing. The best way to get through it was with humor, they said.
I was reminded of these guys and their late friend upon looking at the poster today. The moment captured here happens more often than I once realized, and it never hurts to make people more aware of illnesses that can plague anyone of any age. The fact that 50/50 comes with Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bonus — that’s awesome. (Watch the trailer below.)