10. 50/50

Director: Jonathan Levine
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston

Those who bought tickets to see 50/50 and expecting to laugh at Knocked Up 2.0. (the film’s commercials were a bit misleading) must’ve wished they’d snuck in boxes of Kleenex along with the Twizzlers and gummy bears.

Written by real-life cancer survivor, and actual best friend of Seth Rogen’s, Will Reiser, 50/50 does pull several authentic laughs out of its gravely serious premise, that of an average dude (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who finds out he has cancer and painfully comes to grips with the possibility of an early death. Rogen’s presence (he basically plays himself) ensures sporadic bits of comic relief, and it’s mostly successful, especially when Rogen and Gordon-Levitt try to use the latter’s condition to get laid.

But director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) knows what the film’s biggest strength is: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, one of the industry’s best young actors. And in 50/50, he’s magnificent, conveying a gamut of emotions with naturalism and knocking the wind out of you when it’s time for his character to accept his helplessness. Rarely does a movie targeted at the twenty-something crowd pack so much poignancy and grace.