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Cancer comedy....

I wasn't sure I could watch 50/50, but I'm glad I did ... just as I wasn't sure I could watch The Big C, but I'm glad I get to see that, too.

I've merely had cancer lite (twice: prostate and thyroid). Not having had to go through the horrors most cancer patients endure -- chemo and radiation and clocks with 30-minute hours -- all I can really speak to is the realized fear of it. I've long dreaded cancer, then I met my dread. Even though I tell my own jokes about it (want a limp dick joke? or a throat-slitting gag? I gotta ton of them), I didn't know that I'd find others' humor in it.

But I did. Each in its own way, the movie and the show take the muffler off of cancer: the hushed tones, the embarrassed awkwardness, the unmentionableness of it. They don't exploit their tumors for cheap laughs. They don't find nobility in metastasis. They don't jerk tears. They simply have the courage to treat cancer for what it is: just another fucking disease.

50/50 is just a bromance with not only bad girlfriends and crazy mothers but also tumors and rude doctors getting in the way of getting drunk and laid. The Big C is darker. Laura Linney's family is a sitcom family bizarre enough for cable. If these were shitty shows, cancer wouldn't rescue them. But they're each good. Yes, all the characters end up learning more about the meaning of life. But they did that, too, on Leave it to Beaver. That's the point. It's just life. And death.
Glenn Funamoto's profile photoHerby Garcia's profile photoTracey Maken's profile photoNicholas Sanchez's profile photo
Thank you for reviewing these.....My brother is currently in the middle of his fight against an agressive malignant melanoma (he is in a trial and we believe he will win).....I just wasn't sure I could handle this movie....and maybe I will wait a while before I watch....but it will be on my list to see eventually.
+Jeff Jarvis I really welcome your comments like this. I'm about to deal with prostate cancer as well (this coming Wednesday), and I think that I'm handling it well. Your matter-of-fact descriptions (and, strangely, my doctor's almost verbatim similar descriptions) certainly helped dispel the potentially scary aspects of the surgery. As with you, it was caught early and I hope that I can deal with the aftermath as gracefully as you.

Now, if I can just keep my wife calm about this and reassure her that I'll still be there for her.

+LaDonna Pride Best of luck to your brother!

+JR Holmes Good luck to you, sir. It is not just treatable but curable. Having surgery? If you need anything, let me know.
Thanks for the positive and pointedly honest review. I have been on the fence about seeing this movie. It's nice to know they can make a movie about cancer, without it turning into a... well a movie about cancer. Life goes on, as you are a perfect example of.
This is the most brave post I've ever read. Sharing it right now. You're a real hero, the daily and anonymous one. Kudos.
+Jeff Jarvis Just keep doing what you are already doing. I'm a journalism school grad that never practiced in the field more than a handful of freelance articles. You and Jay Rosen are a tiny gateway back to that world and I appreciate and keep learning again from the comments you exchange.

I'm being the "strong one" in the family with this upcoming surgery and I have a good deal of confidence in both my surgeon and in what I'll be doing on the recovery side. Projecting that confidence is my challenge at the moment. I'll certainly keep in mind the kind offer.
its 50/50 chance its could be good or bad.
Having lived this with my husband's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (in remission since January 2009!) I am both intrigued and petrified of seeing it play out on screen. Once was more than enough, but maybe it would be cathartic to see through someone else's eyes.
I'm a fellow cancer survivor, of Stage II Testicular Cancer. While I never had a dire prognosis - it is one of the more curable cancers - I did have 4 months of chemo and now 4 surgeries (2 for the actual cancer, and 2 as side effects).

I haven't seen 50/50 yet - but The Big C is simply awesome. So powerful on so many levels... they really get the mixed emotions of it so well.

Breaking Bad is the best show on TV right now, and probably #2 all-time for me behind The Wire - and that also has some cancer backstory, but they've shelved it somewhat in the main story line. I can tell you though that early on, Walt's transition to bad ass was poignant for me. To this day, DLZ by TV on the Radio has a special place in my heart, watching that episode during my treatment.

I do find myself oddly emotional at weird times during these kinds of shows and movies though... the smallest little things they get right can sometimes make it all rush back in.
Thanks for the review Jeff. As a cancer survivor myself (when I was 13, now 40) I wasn't sure what to think, but the more I read it sounds like a movie I should go see.
I survived a bout of kidney cancer last year. Last night I went to 50/50 and alternated between tears running down my cheeks and laughing out loud. I'm not sure I was laughing or crying at appropriate spots; like +Tim Marman said the smallest things seem to bring out emotional responses and memories.

One of the things that struck me in the movie and now looking back to my cancer is that for myself it seemed easier dealing with cancer than it was for my friends and family. I think it is easier for those with the C because we really don't have a choice other than just plowing forward. Besides we are on the receiving end of the good wishes and support (even though the good wishes can become annoying as hell after a while). Our friends and family though have a choice, they often don't have the support and can distance themselves or even flee from the pain and chaos of cancer. +JR Holmes good luck on Wed.; it was six months before my wife opened up and talked to me about the stress and pain she went through. We are still working on fixing our relationship and my body. The side effects of the cancer surgery seem to be never ending...
The movie 50/50 = comedy drama that covers the very real topic of cancer.
Score = 8 great acting, great story, and it will make you laugh and tear up.
Mr.Jarvis I'm with you on cancer comedy...I've lost family members and my very best friend to cancer. I'm sad for those losses but I understand a need for people creating a comedy sense about it. We who have lost loved ones have seen the worst of what it can do. Bringing cancer awareness is the best for us all. Even if its for laughs they don't laugh at it they make all of us laugh with those who can still laugh. All for the better I say.
I'm so glad you posted your review if this movie. In currently battling my second round with cancer and literally have a 50/50 chance. I make my jokes but no one around me laughs and it just creates an awkward moment lol. But I hadn't decided if I wanted to go see this because I was afraid I'd probably cry the whole way through. But now I'm sure to go see it knowing I will finally be able to laugh openly.
I was reading tonight that a lot of the movie came from writer Will Reiser's own cancer experiences. Explains why the heart & humor ring true.
Rogan was on The Daily show and said the movie came from the actual experiences of his friend and writer of the movie.
I've made it through season 1 of The Big C. I suppose the magnified dysfunction of the rest of the family is supposed to be endearing, but by the end of the season they're just annoying.
When I saw this movie I thought it would probibly be a really good movie, but I just can't take view movies about cancer or the death of a child (rabbit hole). I know as a move the are probably great, but both these subjects are just to painful to watch for me, even if the end result if good.
Tom T.
You are an inspiration Mr. Jarvis. I am glad I have gotten to 'know" you through TWIG and now your blog and Google+. I am currently reading your new book and I love it so far. Stay healthy.
+Jeff Jarvis I'm currently undergoing chemo and I saw 50/50 2 months ago at a free screening...I was kind of worried at first especially since I watched it 2 days before my first chemo. My cancer is a "lite" version as far as the treatment goes and that its not life threatening...but they have been trying to treat it for almost a year now..steroids and antibiotics first..radiation next..again radiation...and since all else has failed.."lite" chemo...its been two months of chemo and now I'm on a once every three weeks schedule...friday they told me we might have to do this for a year...and I dont even know if this will work at the end...just have to wait and see..

As I said..mine is "lite"..but I felt all the frustration of the main character in the movie...I just dont think I'm learning anything about life... : p

Its worth watching even if you are under going treatment right now...just be prepared to cry...
+Nicole Kraft Good luck that it says that way.
+Tim Marman I'll check that out. I know some folks working on an awareness campaign for "curable" men's cancers. Watch this space.
+Dennis Petretti I can't imagine what it would be like to have cancer as part of your growing up.
+Charles Kobernat and +Tim Marman Yes, I also well up, not at odd moments, but at the most obvious moments. For me, that started after 9/11. Now I know it's not just me and jus that. Thanks. And +Charles Kobernat Good luck.
+Kendra Potts I hope I don't lead you into the wrong movie. You're in the midst of it now and, as I said, I had the quick cruise. Best of luck, friend.
+Chris Karavoulias Man, it's like you're fighting terrorism in your body. Good luck.
I had bladder cancer 16 years ago. Cured after surgery and C free all this time.. I can't bring myself to watch this movie or "C"
I was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago and went through chemo and radiation. Didn't think this "bromance" would effect me, but I wept through most of the film. Perhaps it was the trailer for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" that started the tears flowing.
+Jeff Jarvis Oh, 9/11 is the same thing... the smallest little memories make it all come rushing back. I wrote something relevant to 9/11 & Cancer recently to this point, somewhat:

Thoughts and prayers to the others fighting right now. Cancer sucks, but in some ways it's also an opportunity to grow as a person. And just know, as +JR Holmes and others have said, it's harder in some ways on your loved ones than it is on you. You WILL find the strength... and sometimes you have to be a little understanding with everyone else. Everyone deals in a different way.
+Jeff Jarvis, another thought-provoking post. If people aren't fighting it out in the comments they're enjoying the interaction of sharing some deep memories and experiences. 
I really struggle with this topic. I lost my 47 year-old brother to colo-rectal cancer this past April. Yes, it sucks. I have no doubt these types of stories provide an outlet for cancer survivors, their friends and families. And, I think it's important to find the humor in any situation. But I'm still in a place where anger and sadness outweighs the humor and look forward to a time when that's no longer true.
+Robert Fox Not big on Seth? This guy writes and stars in most of his own movies. Seth and his buddies' movies have saved us from those lame and low brow movies (some where funny) of the 2000's that Sandler and his buddies made. The humor and dialogue has been elevated thanks to the work of these guys do.
+Robert Fox It's a very subdued and quiet film...I enjoyed it. I like Seth Rogen and his other work, but if you're worried about him, don't be. He basically plays the friend we all wish we could be...and he has no problem saying what's on his mind. But he isn't obnoxious at all.
+Robert Fox Welp, as impractical as this gesture will be, I would love to hear what you think of the film when you eventually see it. You claim to be a bit of a snob when it comes to films. Out of curiosity, what ARE you partial to watching?
Saw 50/50 last night and was moved. Great movie, poignant and funny too
+Robert Fox All great movies. I have to agree with you about going to the movies. Usually, when I leave a movie theater I have the same feeling I have when I leave a strip club.
Tracey Maken - + JR Holmes My prayers are with you and your family as you pull through this, and you will. I beat it twice before 35 without chemo. I was unsure about seeing 50/50 because I was afraid it would be depressing. Turned out to be the exact opposite. A few times the tears did flow, but all in all, it made me realize that family, friends, and a sense of humor really are the best medicine.

If you need anything, feel free to contact me. Best of luck my friend. You'll be fine.
+Robert Fox Hmm...that's no film snobbery. That's just generally good taste. :) My top would go to "Fight Club", "The Dark Knight" and "Apocalypse Now", and I am a big "Star Wars" fan (yep, the whole damn thing). Anyway, it sucks that with a family films are so expensive...even 15-20 bucks for me is still a lot for a show.
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