Friday, September 30, 2011

It could go either way

Here's a groan-worthy observation I'm sure will show up in some critic's review today, which I will include here anyway:

"50/50 is not only the title of the new movie starring Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It's also the film's odds of being warmly received by its audience."

The wording may differ slightly in this theoretical critic's review, but that will be the general idea.

A comedy about cancer?

It wouldn't be the first one -- although not a lot of others immediately come to mind. I do know that there's currently a Showtime original series called The Big C, starring Laura Linney. It's listed as a comedy-drama, and it's about her character's struggles with cancer.

It might work, but there's always a chance -- say, a 50% chance -- that it could be seen as just, you know, wrong. You know, like making a comedy about 9/11. (Whose title would bear a typographic similarity to this film -- both would contain a forward slash.)

I haven't pored over the trailer. In fact, I've seen it only once. But one of its main scenes involves Gordon-Levitt's character trying to pick up girls in a bar, and leading with the revelation that he has cancer. Rogen's character has assured him it won't be weird. Cut to a moment later. "Yeah, you're right, it was weird," says Rogen.

Cancer is weird, in the sense that it prompts people into bouts of awkward silence and immediate self-consciousness. Which can actually make for good comedy if you consider the entire career of Ricky Gervais. But the wrong things Gervais jokes about are not as wrong as this.

However, the movie is written by a cancer survivor, Will Reiser, who was indeed a young man when he was diagnosed, and it's based more or less on his experiences. If he can see the potential humor in his situation, why can't we?

And I do know one person who's already seen it and raves about it. Not personally -- he's someone I "know" through a different online film forum -- so I can't say for sure if his tastes align with mine. But I'm probably willing to give both him and the movie the benefit of the doubt.

Not this weekend, though. This weekend it's all about Moneyball. I can't wait to escape into a movie about baseball, after my real baseball world (I'm a Red Sox fan) just came crumbling down around me.

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