LAUGHTER is the best medicine for a 20-something man coming to terms with a rare form of cancer in this heartfelt comedy.
Loosely based on the real-life experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser, who faced a cancer diagnosis at the age of 24 and underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his spine, it includes moments of heartbreaking emotion amid hilarious vulgarity.
The central character’s frustrations and terror will resonate deeply with anyone’s experience of this disease and the film treats the subject sensitively and candidly but doesn’t wallow in self-pity.
Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works behind the scenes at Seattle Public Radio with best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen), who makes public his dislikes for Adam’s artist girlfriend, Rachael.
A doctor’s appointment to determine the reasons for Adam’s acute back pain reveals the quietly spoken 27-year-old has a tumour that must be treated immediately.
His chances of survival are 50%.
Rachael fails to offer emotional support so Kyle steps in, ferrying his pal to appointments where Adam meets fellow patients Alan and Mitch.
Adam also encounters inexperienced psychologist, Katherine McCay (Anna Kendrick).
There is also the matter of telling Adam’s mother (Anjelica Huston), who has her hands full caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s.
Buoyed by the support of the people he loves and a rescue greyhound called Skeletor, Adam weathers the onslaught on his body, determined to see his 28th birthday.
The film stylishly melds a buddy comedy and romance with Adam’s battle against the disease, sidestepping mawkish sentiment to cut as close to the bone as possible.
Gordon-Levitt delivers a magnificent standout performance as Adam.