Boy howdy, do I find it funny how these Joseph Gordon Levitt films go with me. He's clearly a competent actor, who does good work, but man of man do his films just never break that glass ceiling into be a great movie. Ok, so let's dive into this film.
JGL works for NPR, and is working on a SYMBOLISM OH MY GOD THIS IS SYMBOLISM DO YOU GET IT YET, IF NOT, IT IS OK BECAUSE THE WHOLE MOVIE WILL POUND IT INTO YOUR HEAD piece on a volcano that looks like it is dying but suddenly it springs back into life. He has a terrible girlfriend, a great best friend, and gets cancer. He goes to his therapist, who is terrible at her job and is also Anna Kendrick, and we watch him deal with cancer. Kind of. More we watch his personal relationships with his family, friends, girlfriends, and other folks as he goes through what is a very difficult thing.
First thing first, I do not have cancer. I do not have a family member who has had cancer. So there is an emotional value to this film that I cannot get onto without the film using art and film language to get me onboard. If you find this movie touching and wonderful because of that emotional connect, that is awesome, and I think that was the film's goal.
With all that said, this movie could have been SOOO good. It had all the parts. From everything I had seen in trailers and stuff, I thought it was going to be about his relationship with Seth Rogan, which was the best part. Look at the tag line in the poster up there. "It takes a pair to beat the odds." That implies that this is a film about the two of them and their relationship as JGL deals with his cancer. Nope. Rogan is nowhere near enough in the film to justify that tag line. I wish he was. Like I said, his relationship and demeanor with JGL were the best parts of the film.
And when he first met Matt Frewer and Phillip Baker Hall at chemo, I loved seeing that relationship grow as well. But all the stuff with his girlfriend and her cheating on him, and she isn't cheating on him because of the cancer, she's cheating on him because she's a [I do not curse on this blog ... she makes me want to curse] and has been since before he found out about the illness. The family bits, while a little over the top because of the addition of a father with alzheimer's, were really great. And there is a moment at the end, as JGL is in surgery that you first see Rogan waiting outside. Then you cut to the parents waiting inside. Then you cut to the surgery prep. Then you cut back, and Rogan is sitting with JGL's parents, and his mother reaches out to hold Rogan's hand. That is powerful. That is friendship moving beyond to brotherly bonds of love and family. That was a powerful spot in the film. Immediately ruined by Anna Kendrick.
Don't give up now that I've said something you don't like about an actress you like, faithful readers!
Oh yeah, spoiler, he survives. I normally really care about not spoiling movies, but this one was spoiled from the very beginning because of the way the film is made. You know from the beginning he survived. I sat here, with a full house of roommates, their girlfriends, and my wife, as we watched the final minutes, and I just openly asked for the movie to have some balls, and to not have him survive and date Anna Kendrick at the end. But that is what happened. And it is just a slap in the face of any kind of realism they were trying to sell with this thing.
The more I think about it, the less I like this movie. Which is really frustrating, because I had such high hopes for it. I spent my hard earned donations on it (thank you oh so kindly to the donator, of course, you made my month with your satanic donation number). So yeah. Not happy with this one. But I can very much see how many others would be. I just wonder if JGL will ever be able to break that glass ceiling and finally star in a really great film. Time will tell.