Joseph Gordon Levitt certainly has come a long way since his days portraying Tommy Solomon on the sitcom 3rd Rock From The Sun.


He has honed, not only his comedic chops, but demonstrated a flair for the dramatic not unlike Woody Harrelson. Recent turns in "Hesher" and "Inception" were well received by critics if not reflected in the box office. This is on top of his humorous role in "500 Days of Summer" and "G.I. Joe".


Now he portrays Adam, a 20-something guy who is thinks he's happy, but whose world is about to take a turn for the surreal.

During a visit to the doctor to find out why his back is hurting, Adam learns he has a rare form of bone cancer that has enveloped his spine. The doctor gives him a 50/50 chance to survive the cancer even with the aggressive treatment they plan.


He breaks the news to his best friend Kyle (played by a surprisingly restrained Seth Rogen) and then to his live-in girlfriend Rachel (Bryce Dallas Howard) who had become distant but is now willing to take care of him.


Of course he saves delivering the news to his mother (Anjelica Huston) for last as she already is smothering enough. She is also tending to his father (brilliantly played by Serge Houde) who is an Alzheimer's patient.

Never letting him get depressed, his pal Kyle dutifully keeps him emotionally up as he goes through the various stages of treatment. He even stands by while Adam shaves his head prior to it falling out... wincing at every clipper stroke.


Rachel chauffeurs him to and from his hospital treatments until it is discovered - by Kyle no less - that she is into some shenanigans behind Adams back.


But as everything in his life falls apart he receives counseling from a first year psychology resident named Katherine (Anna kendrick) with whom she is his third patient. He rebuffs her methods of dealing with his cancer because she is so young. Naturally, she is unprepared for this reaction and becomes rather timid but keeps plugging along.


Ultimately, however, decisions have to be made and everyone around him must come to grips with the decisions Adam makes. Those whom he least expects to be capable are the most capable.

For anyone who has suffered with cancer or suffered with a relative or close friend with cancer, the events of "50/50" will be all too familiar. Including the young psychologist!


As always, Anjelica is dead on - mostly without saying a word. Look for her confessional scene when she meets Katherine. Kendrick couldn't have been more perfectly cast as she merely carried over her Natalie Keener character from "Up In The Air". She looks and plays the deer-in-headlights persona to a tee.


But surprisingly, Seth Rogen demonstrates that there is more talent than he has shown in previous roles. Though he still plays a buffoon, it's toned down to a believable level. Some how, he and Gordon-Levitt work very well together.


"50/50", though not a unique story is humorous, heart tugging and realistic. You can easily relate to every character no matter how minor. Gordon-Levitt puts on another acting clinic that may well get recognized at awards time.   -- GEOFF BURTON