Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
50/50 Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Cancer patient questions his life in mature dramedy.
  • R
  • 2011
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 23 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's main message is that adversity need not break you; cliched as it may sound, it can make you confront yourself and those around you as you seek a more fulfilling (and healthier in more ways than one) life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adam is resilient in the face of a shocking, scary diagnosis. Despite this, he's able to care for others (though he does have blind spots) and be generous with his time and friendship. And he finally learns to value himself and embrace life as he faces the possibility of death. His friends and counselor also learn from being around him. Women portrayed stereotypically.


A guy curses out a woman and calls her derogatory names in front of someone else. Other examples of strong anger directed at a female character.


A man and a woman are shown having sex (breasts are visible, but genitals are not). Frank discussions between two men about how to hit on women and get them to have sex with them. A woman is caught kissing a man who's not her boyfriend.


Frequent use of "f--k," "s--t," "d--k," "c--t," "c--k," "p---y," "a--hole," "ass," "motherf--ker," "oh my God," and more.


Some name-dropping and labels on display, including iPod, The View, Jeep, Dwell magazine, Facebook, Toyota, Rite Aid, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking. Medicinal and recreational drug use. Bongs are visible; weed-laced brownies are shared.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this fact-based dramedy (co-star Seth Rogen's real-life friend, Will Reiser, wrote the movie based on his own experiences) tackles some pretty heavy themes -- particularly the idea of facing the specter of death before the age of 30 -- that could overwhelm young teens attracted by the film's stars: Rogen and (500) Days of Summer's Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Expect plenty of strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," and more) and some sexually charged talk and scenes (including partial female nudity), plus drug use (both medicinal and recreational).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNorico April 14, 2014
Adult Written bySTEPHIEGIRL66 May 25, 2012


Teen, 14 years old Written byClorox bleach September 2, 2020

Dramedy movie about cancer

Very good dramedy about a cancer patient
Teen, 17 years old Written byxoChelsox June 15, 2019

My Review:

I recommend this movie for 15+ year olds because, in the movie they have a lot of weed in it, and some sex scenes. Anna Kendrick plays on this movie, which is c... Continue reading

What's the story?

Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a 27-year-old public radio editor, discovers one day that the aches and pains that have been plaguing him signal a frightening reality: He has cancer, with a 50/50 shot of beating the odds. As he undergoes chemotherapy, Adam begins to confront his relationships and friendships, questioning whether they're satisfying and meaningful -- and, if not, what he needs to do about them. For example, is his girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard) the right girl for him? Can his best friend (Seth Rogen) deal with his illness? Should he trust his new therapist (Anna Kendrick)? And is he who he wants to be -- as a son, a significant other, a friend?

Is it any good?

50/50 faces so many hurdles on its way to success. There are so many cliches that a movie about terminal illness has to skirt: How to handle the reveal without being overdramatic? Should there be a transformation -- and, if so, how to make it believable? So, good for director Jonathan Levine (and writer Will Reiser and the producers, including Rogen), for managing to create a refreshingly irreverent -- though still poignant -- film about the subject.


Far from being sappy and mawkish, the movie is unafraid to ask difficult questions: Does illness allow you to put yourself first all the time? How much can you ask of others when you're sick? And it's bold enough to mine the situation for hilarity without minimizing it or going for the easy jokes. That said, it's not perfect by any means; Adam's girlfriend turns needlessly villainous, and a storyline about Adam's father could have used more depth but instead peters out. But ultimately, it takes confidence to create a movie like this one, as well as a great actor like Gordon-Levitt, who has created an Adam we can root for easily and without pity. When you see 50/50, be prepared to laugh and think.


Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the film deals with the subject matter of chronic illness -- in this case, cancer. Is Adam's reaction believable? Does it seem at all exaggerated?

  • Did you notice any sexism or stereotypes in the movie? How do the women in this movie compare to those in other Seth Rogen movies? Is this movie more or less crude than Rogen's other films? Do you think that has something to do with the subject matter?

  • The movie is based on the writer's own experiences. How true to life do you think it actually is? Why do writers/filmmakers sometimes change facts when they're making movies?

Movie details

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