Dark humor, smart characters and a script with a heart make "50/50" one of the best films of the year.

This is a movie for grownups, and its characters, as well as the situations in which they find themselves, will make you feel something. You'll take some emotions with you when you leave the theater.

The title is about the chances of survival for Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, "Inception"). Adam is a nice guy who leads a pretty quiet life outside his work for a public radio station in Seattle. When he becomes ill, he goes to a doctor, but he never expects to hear what the physician has to say: Adam has a rare form of spinal cancer.

Adam barely knows how to react. "I'll be OK, won't I?" he asks. But the doctor doesn't give him a lot of encouragement, and neither does the information that Adam finds on the Internet.

Adam and Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) are in a new relationship, but she assures Adam she will take care of him. She even buys him a retired greyhound for companionship when she's not there. Adam's co-worker and best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) tries to encourage him to go out and party.

Adam's mother (Anjelica Huston) wants to move in with her son, but he refuses to let her do that. Meanwhile, Adam is scheduled for chemotherapy, where he meets a couple of older guys (Philip Baker Hall, Matt Frewer) who befriend him. His new counselor Katherine (Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air") does her best to help him, but she is often at a loss for the right words.

The script centers on relationships: Adam's relationships with his girlfriend, his parents, his caregivers, his buddy and even his own ailment. Gordon-Levitt takes us through the gamut of emotions that people with cancer (or any serious illness, for that matter) must run, with his vulnerability showing beneath a sometimes-angry, sometimes-brave exterior.

Never does the show run out of steam, and never does it run out of respect for its characters, even those who are less likeable than others. Sometimes the way they treat each other is so tender that you're liable to tear up, and sometimes their gallows humor will be enough to make you laugh until you cry.

Don't be surprised if you hear Oscar buzz about this remarkable picture. The odds are more than 50/50 it will earn at least one nomination for the performances by its stellar cast.

 

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