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Movie Review: 50/50

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Mike Finkelstein just went on an emotional roller coaster ride, and for the first time ever, teared up in a movie (don’t tell anyone…).  Here is his review for “50/50”.

PLOT: Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young, healthy 27-year-old with a good job and a beautiful girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard).  However, all of that is turned on its head when he finds out he has a rare form of cancer, and only a 50/50 chance of living.  This is the story of his battle, with the help of his best friend (Seth Rogan), mother (Anjelica Huston), and a young, inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick).

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  To have cancer in a drama is one thing.  You show all the pain and heartbreak that comes with the battle.  By the end, the audience is either cheering with tears of joy, or choking back sobs.  But a cancer comedy?  How can you balance that?  How do you make the jokes genuine without poking fun?  How do you make the story funny without holding back or being over the top?

The answer is simple: make it about the characters.

50/50 is based on the life of Will Reiser, a writer and producer on “Da Ali G Show”, and one of Seth Rogan’s best friends.  Reiser had a rare form of cancer, and wrote the script’s first draft in remission.  He said in interviews that while the film wasn’t autobiographical, Rogan and producer Evan Goldberg would grill him constantly while rewriting to make sure everything in the script was something he would actually do or he was actually thinking.  They wanted to make the film as realistically human as possible.  They did just that, crafting a movie not only heartfelt, but one that runs the gauntlet on emotions.

50/50 follows Adam, a young, healthy 27-year-old guy who plays by all the rules.  He avoids all drugs and alcohol, never learned to drive (too unsafe), and doesn’t even jay-walk on an empty street just in case a car appears out of nowhere.  He has a good life, but one hell of a nagging back pain.  Turns out the back pain is from a tumor on his spine.  Suddenly, Adam is battling cancer.  He doesn’t go on a huge BUCKET LIST style adventure or violently flip out on everyone, a la SAW.  He takes his medicine and goes to his therapy appointments and does exactly what he is supposed to do, because, frankly, that’s what he’s always done and he doesn’t know what else to do.  That is where the charm is: in the complete and utter confusion and uncertainty that lies within each of these characters.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Adam, and does so beautifully.  After his diagnosis, Adam is, as they say in the five steps, numb.  He is carrying a metaphorical bag of bricks and can’t put them down until either a doctor tells him he can, or he very literally dies.  Gordon-Levitt brings that stoic tension in every frame, and in fact, leads this film.  His eyes show every ounce of frustration and fear building, all leading to a pivotal emotional scene where he is finally forced to deal with his impending fate.  Despite all the jokes Adam’s best friend makes and all the ‘therapy’ his therapist tries to give him, Adam is ultimately alone, and thanks to Gordon-Levitt, we are right there with him.  I honestly don’t know if a lesser actor could have handled such a role, but I’ve very happy I didn’t have to find out.

While Adam is the main focal point of 50/50, what also makes it work so well is the excellent supporting cast.  Seth Rogan plays Adam’s well-meaning yet stupid best friend, Kyle, who just keeps trying to make light of the diagnosis by using it to get laid.  While it’s basically Rogan in every film you’ve seen him in so far (including the fart and sex jokes), he plays the part simple and with major heart, a testament to the fact that it is his real life best friend whom the film is based on.  As for romance, Anna Kendrick plays Katherine, Adam’s young, doctorate-seeking therapist   With Adam only being her third patient ever, we see her struggle to try and follow the school rules, as well as her failing as she starts to really care about him.  Kendrick is absolutely adorable, and together, the two develop a sweetness that makes us beg for even just a kiss.  (On another note, I think I officially found what warm, home baked chocolate chip cookies are made of: the cuteness given off when they’re around each other.)

Rounding out the support are Anjelica Huston as Adam’s mother, Bryce Dallas Howard as his (ex) girlfriend, and Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer as his two fellow chemo patients.  Huston could have easily turned her role into a one-note cliché, but manages, within a mere two scenes, to turn all that around and let us know there is something a lot deeper that comes with a mother’s (and wife’s) love.  As for Howard, I don’t think there was one person who couldn’t tell what was going to happen with her, but she did what she had to do very nicely, and even had her own scene to give just a bit more depth than we were expecting.  And Hall and Frewer are just plain funny.  They may be sick, but let us know that even if you’re down, never take life too seriously.

If anyone ever asks you how to do a cancer comedy, point them in the direction of 50/50.  Director Jonathan Levine, writer Will Reiser and producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan have created a film that just set the bar.  Heartfelt and most importantly real, 50/50 will have you laughing one moment, crying the next, and in the end, just plain thankful to be alive.  Let’s see what awards season brings…

GRADE: A

Mike’s LIKES:

1) JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: I can’t rave about Joseph Gordon-Levitt enough.  While he is ‘calm’ on the outside, you could see the twisting and turning and battling of emotions on the inside.  He finally lets everything go in one climactic scene near the end, and it’s extraordinary.

2) CANCER SUPPORT GROUP: Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer have some of the best moments as Alan and Mitch, the two other chemo patients.  The Cheech and Chong or Waldorf and Statler of cancer are warm, comical, and somehow even made chemotherapy funny.

3) SUPPORTING CAST: Every supporting actor deserves a mention here.  Seth Rogan plays his usual idiot self, but does so with charm and care for his friend.  Anna Kendrick is absolutely adorable as the young therapist-in-training, and Anjelica Huston IS a mother in turmoil who would do anything for her son.

4) I NAILED YOU!: Great line by Rogan!  He said everything the audience was thinking, and I loved relishing in that moment!

5) MUSIC—“SOMETHING” AND “YELLOW LEDBETTER”: Listen closely to the score during any moments with Adam and Katie, and you’ll hear a faint resemblance to the Beatles’ “Something”.  Also, we have the best usage of “Yellow Ledbetter” I’ve heard in a long time…

6) BREAKDOWN: The scene referred to in like#1.  Wow…that is all…

7) TOUCH FOR COMFORT: The theme of touch for comfort is spread throughout the film, and when you see how such a small thing can impact a person’s life, you can’t help but get emotional.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) NONE: Just an excellent, emotional roller coaster ride of a movie.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) The film is based on Will Reiser, who developed cancer while working as an associate producer on “Da Ali G Show”.  Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, worked as writers on the show at the same time, and encouraged Reiser to write.

2) James McAvoy was originally cast as Adam, but had to drop out due to personal conflicts. Joseph Gordon-Levitt accepted the lead role just two days before shooting was about to start.

 

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst

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Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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Priest Accidentally Forgets To Turn Off Filters Before Live Streaming Mass

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The internet is having a field day with the innocent mistake of biblical proportions.

With new social distancing guidelines, many churches have closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And while that doesn’t justify all the wine you’ve been chugging during your self quarantine, it does have many people practicing their faith from their homes. One Italian priest was just trying to recite a little prayer for his followers when he accidentally left a filter feature on during the broadcast! In the clip the priest is digitally adorned with a space helmet, workout gear, a fedora and sunglasses and more.

Social media went nuts for the video, which has now gone viral. One comment reads “He just doubled his holy power.” Another reads “Father, Son and Holy Influencer.” One commenter couldn’t resist a good pun and said the video is having a “Mass effect.”

Enjoy your daily blessing and take a look at the funny video below!

 

Priest in Italy live streams mass, activates filters by mistake from r/funny

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Danny DeVito Passionately Urges New Yorkers To Stay Home…And Twitter Agrees!

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For the love of Danny DeVito, stay home!

The world is in a dark place right now and I am not sure how much more bad news we can handle. That’s why when I saw Danny DeVito’s name trending on Twitter I froze. Our great nation could very well crumble if anything bad was to happen to such an icon right now. With extreme trepidation I clicked on the social media link and was relieved to see that good ol’ Danny boy is just strumming up hype because he is passionately urging New Yorkers to stay home.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been driving New Yorkers to stay home and has taken every precaution short of shutting the state down completely to help prevent the virus from spreading. Because New Yorkers can be hard headed, it doesn’t hurt to have some famous friends reiterate your message. Big names like Lala Anthony, Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller have all made appearances on Cuomo’s social media pleading with New Yorker’s to heed the governors warning. Only one celebrity was able to make it to Twitter’s trending page however and that was none other than Danny DeVito. DeVito’s message is simple…stay home! In the two minute video, DeVito reminds fans that it’s not just up to the elderly to isolate themselves. “Young people can get it and they can transmit it to old people and the next thing you know – I’m out of there” says the actor. We must save him!

Twitter went into a frenzy with many users agreeing that we need to stay home for Danny. One user wrote “When Danny speaks, I listen.” Another passionately wrote “If you idiots kill Danny DeVito I SWEAR TO GOD.” One promoted DeVito from the icon status I previously awarded him and said “WE GOTTA PROTECT WORLD TREASURE DANNY DeVITO.” 

Take a look at the video below and for the love of the newly minted national treasure, stay home!

 

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