Monday, October 17, 2011

50/50 and Crazy Sexy Cancer Review

Two movies about cancer.

As different as different can be.

One a documentary, the other a Hollywood "dramedic" feature.

I am embracing my inner Roger Ebert (Hollywood film critic and fellow thyroid cancer survivor).

How do I rate each movie?

Two thumbs up.

50/50 a Seth Rogen-typical film. This is truly a guy's movie about cancer based on the real life story of Rogen's friend Will Reiser, who survived a battle with cancer. Read about it here. (Read an article about the world premier at The 2011 Toronto International Film Festival by clicking here.) They talk about sex, they are crass, they swear, they smoke weed (really Seth Rogen-typical). Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a 27-year old typical guy who gets diagnosed with a rare cancer. Much of the time, he seems to be alone, really alone. What he lacks in number of people in his support circle he gains in loyalty. Who needs another person when you have someone like Kyle (played by none other than Seth Rogen)? He makes sure there is a steady supply of "medicinal marijuana", sex even while on chemo, and that Adam's surgical scar is slathered with ointment. Kyle is a personal chauffeur, confidante, and professional "wing man", basically a "guy's guy". The kind of friend a guy needs.

In Crazy Sexy Cancer on the other hand, author/documentarian/health educator/cancer survivor Kris Carr is surrounded and I mean, SURROUNDED by other survivors in her age group. She found her tribe ten times over. She seeks out alternative treatment. She is resourceful, sassy, and talks to other people. She has a community. She has a huge spiritual growth. She finds love in the end but she does not have "a wing man". Her journey more resembles my own-- self-education, seeking out alternative treatments, getting a team to rally around her (mom and dad going with her to appointments). Crazy Sexy Cancer is a chick flick.

50/50 on the other hand shows how isolated and lonely the experience of cancer is for young adult survivors. Adam's girlfriend (Ms. Flighty 'n Flaky)

cheats on him, dumps him and leaves him with the dog, a retired racing hound named Skeletor.

rejected by a girl in a club when he says, "I have cancer", and befriends elderly pair of pot-loving chemo-patients. Set in the backdrop of Seattle, Washington, where the skies appear to be perpetually overcast and rainy, Adam breaks taboos by developing a serious crush on his therapist. Something that you are never supposed to do but in the movies, it seems to be okay.

I equally loved these two movies. (Is that allowed?) But for two totally different reasons.

Even before I knew about this movie or the Crazy Sexy-enterprise, I was already aligned to Kris Carr's way of thinking and using her "cansur" as a catalyst for some major life changes.

Part of it is inevitable. Once diagnosed with cancer, never the same but Kris Carr took it to a whole other level.

Like Adam in 50/50, Kris was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer. She took the "carpe diem" approach by enrolling in the Hippocrates Health Institute and trying numerous alternative approaches from colon therapy to magnets to clowns. With a camera in her face for a two-year period, she got "up close and personal" with her audience (and the camerman, marrying him by the end of the film). So there is a bit of a "happily ever after"-ending to this story yet Kris is technically not cured nor in remission. Kris has found a "space" in all of this to find some inner peace and it overflows through her camera into her inspirational line of books that take care of the body and soul. I found myself tearing up when I realized that her husband-to-be, fully aware of her cancer status with all of its uncertainties, chooses to love and marry her. Now that's love!

Then again why wouldn't he want to marry her? In the famous words of Homer from The Simpsons, "D'uh! [S]he's breathtaking!"

I'm a sap for a good love story so 50/50 won me over too. Who cares if she's his therapist? It still works.

Interestingly, I got to see both movies with other survivors. I watched Crazy Sexy Cancer with some thyoid cancer survivors who I get together with once in a while to share information, triumphs, woes, and to shoot the shit over potlucks. Although I had ordered the DVD two months earlier, I kept it in its cellophane so that I could watch it with these thy'ca chicks, one of whom was going hypo. I was excited to finally get to watch this film especially since I have written so much about Kris Carr in the past and reviewed two of her books already. I loved breaking out my Low Iodine Diet (LID) cookie recipe and sampling other dishes. These ladies are so informed and resourceful. They knew exactly where to get the good LID food and one even gave me digits for her Endo. (I want to change mine.)

As for 50/50, I watched this film with male and female young adult survivors of various cancers at the movie theatre. This was part of the YACC-sponsored free screenings for young adults with cancer across Canada. After the screening, we shared our thoughts, experiences, and "tattoo fetishes" at Spring Rolls (my fave eatery). Some of us identified with this film in different ways.

Kevin, Rebecca, Peter, Ann Marie, me, Neesha, and Ali hanging out at Spring Rolls.

Peter (testicular cancer survivor) and Ann Marie (lung cancer warrior) talking about some serious tattoos.

Kevin (lymphoma survivor) and his wife Rebecca (supporter) at their first event for young adult survivors.

Neesha (lymphoma survivor), her boyfriend Ali (supporter), and Ann Marie all smiles. This was Neesha's first time connecting with other young adult cancer survivors too.

A nice time connecting with these folks. Hope to have more opportunities like this.

1 comment:

me said...

You are a rockstar!! It was so great conencting with you, and I cant wait to meet up with you again.