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Soul Brothers: Jonathan Levine’s “50/50”

Soul Brothers: Jonathan Levine's "50/50"

The title of 50/50, a comedy about a young man diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, refers to main character Adam’s chances of living. It also happens to be a fair measurement of the balance the film strives to achieve: 50 percent heartfelt drama, 50 percent raunchy bromance. The earnestness comes from Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the smut from his best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), and the two play a fine game of give-and-take evening out one another’s extremes the way healthy couples do. Like 2009’s Funny People, another Rogen-affiliated “comedy” about a character with an unusual type of cancer, 50/50 is a tough sell, and its marketing team has been working hard, canvassing YouTube and Facebook with banners and quizzes helping to determine who’s your “Go-to Buddy.”

Though it’s hard to imagine gaggles of straight men asking their “go-to’s” on man-dates to see this modest cancer dramedy (the film, ironically, is released in association with Mandate Pictures), perhaps the Rogen branding is endorsement enough to lure in fans expecting at least a few gross-out gags and unsettling opinions on womankind. Thankfully, “the guys who brought you Superbad” are on their best behavior here, relegating crude dialogue to just Rogen’s character, and justifying it with the idea that Adam needs all the laughs he can get, and even cheap ones are welcome. Read Sarah Silver’s review of 50/50.

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