By Aly Semigran
October 03, 2011 at 10:40 PM EDT
Chris Helcermanas-Benge

Despite strong reviews (EW’s own Lisa Schwarzbaum gave it a solid B+ rating) and stellar performances — why so little Oscar talk for Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this? — the touching and funny 50/50 didn’t fare nearly as well as it could have at the box office over the weekend. (It came in fourth place with a so-so $8.9 million.) For some, it’s because the idea of sitting through a cancer movie, no matter how many moments of levity it may have, seems unbearable. For others, it’s the idea of sitting through a Seth Rogen movie.

If that is, in fact, the reason why some stayed away from 50/50 this weekend, that’s a shame, really. Not only does the movie find the perfect balance of humorous and sad (this film would undoubtedly be Oprah ugly-cry-approved), but it also happens to be Rogen’s best work to date. Perhaps it’s because of his deeply personal ties to the story (50/50 is written by Rogen’s real-life friend Will Reiser, who based the script loosely on his own battles with cancer). Or because there’s no resemblance to Green Hornet anywhere to be found. Either way, I’d be shocked that if after seeing this, Rogen haters would still feel the same way about him.

Then again, I never really understood all the hate for the newly wed Rogen in the first place. Sure, he had a stretch of overexposure there (a trap which fellow funny men like Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, and Ben Stiller also fell victim to at one point in their careers), and his laugh sounds as though someone got a Muppet high, but the guy is undoubtedly talented. He co-wrote Superbad and helped propel Knocked Up to become one of the biggest comedy hits of all-time. And come on guys, he’s Ken Miller!

Perhaps I just have an allegiance to my fellow curly-haired comrades in arms, but I really think Rogen’s recent performance could change some minds. Yes, the stoner comedy is still there. (Hey, at least it’s medicinal this time.) Yes, he plays a bit of a man-child hell-bent on getting himself — and his sick friend — laid, but there’s a layer to the performance that brings something we’ve never really seen from Rogen before. Here’s a guy who doesn’t know exactly what to do for someone who is battling cancer (who does?), but is still doing everything he can to help his best friend through the toughest thing he’s ever endured. Now, what’s not to like about that?

Did you see 50/50 over the weekend, PopWatchers? If so, did you go in as a Seth Rogen lover or hater? Did the movie change your opinion of him? Share in the comments section below!

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