I kept fearing “50/50” would take a left turn onto Sappy Boulevard, plod past Preachy Junction and come to a rest in a town populated by “Dying Young,” “Autumn in New York” and “Sweet November,” where everyone learns pat lessons and becomes better people (except for those who die; those unfortunate folks just help us learn something about ourselves before they pass into the Great Cheesy Beyond).
“50/50” is a movie about cancer, after all, about a young man with the disease. At a certain point star Seth Rogen would have to cease being Seth Rogen, and the whole film would become some YA version of “Beaches,” right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Based on writer Will Reiser’s own experiences and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young radio producer suffering from a rare form of cancer, “50/50” pulls off the magic trick of staying consistently funny, sweet, affecting and real — and never, ever cheesy. For all these reasons and more, “50/50” lands at #8 on MTV’s list of the best movies of 2011.
As Rogen, who produced the film and plays Gordon-Levitt’s best friend (and happens to be Reiser’s close pal), told us back in September, “We’d always talk about how it’s not a creative challenge to take something depressing and make something depressing out of it. To us, it was much more interesting to take something that’s inherently depressing and try to make something really, really funny out of it.”
“50/50” joins “Attack the Block” (#10) and “The Descendants” (#9) on our Best of 2011 list. All week long, we’ll be counting down our list in the lead up to our Best of 2011 Movies live stream on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET. During the show, we’ll revel the top five. Don’t miss it!