A comedy about cancer? Truth IS stranger than fiction because this dramedy is a fictionalized account of what happened to writer Will Reiser ("Red State Diaries") and his best friend Seth Rogen ("Knocked Up") when Reiser was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago (he was 24 at the time). He immediately saw friends and acquaintances fall away because they were uncomfortable around a person who had been given a 50% chance of survival. His best friend Seth Rogen (here called Kyle) had a different reaction: He said if it was a casino, 50/50 would be GREAT odds! And he encouraged head shaving; he thought it might be a great way to pick up women.

This was a big hit (standing ovation) at the Toronto Film Festival and now we see why. Here is the wonderful cast:
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Inception") is utterly convincing as a writer blindsided by illness, who has to suffer the discomfort of chums, lose a girlfriend and witness his mother's pain (his father has Alzheimer's). His black humor is familiar to me: my son David was stricken by a malignancy which he did NOT survive, but he always kept his sense of humor, so this rings true to me.
  • Seth Rogen ("Pineapple Express") brings his trademark raunchy mouth and attitude to this story, but when I remember his real role in the actual story, I am willing to overlook a LOT! This was a true test of friendship and he passed with flying colors. (You WILL get a lump in your throat.)
  • Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air") dithers so beautifully! She is a neophyte counselor whose job is to help cancer patients adjust to their situation. Our hero is polite, but not very compliant.....
  • Bryce Dallas Howard ("The Help") is once again cast in an unsympathetic role. This time she is the erstwhile girlfriend who bails at the first hint of a fatal illness.
  • Anjelica Huston ("When in Rome") is our hero's mother who has a LOT on her plate: a son with a poor chance of survival and a husband with Alzheimer's. By the way, I'd like to tip my hat to Anjelica; she looks "real." No pillow lips; no stringy, scrawny body; no tilted tweaked eyes. From ALL of us: Thank you, Anjelica!
  • Serge Houde ("The Kennedys") never says a word. He conveys perfectly the gentle silence of an Alzheimer's patient.
  • Philip Baker Hall ("All Good Things") has chemo on the same schedule as our hero. Hall and another chum always bring pot brownies (Medical Marijuana) to these sessions and our Three Musketeers share them with contented smiles.
  • Matt Frewer ("Eureka") is the third Musketeer, happily chowing down on those brownies as they chat away the hours of treatment.
Our screening audience included a group of cancer survivors and people from oncology centers with a Q & A session after the screening.

I was happy to see a rescue greyhound incorporated into the story. Castoffs from the dog tracks are a separate tragedy being played out every day and we come to love the gentle giant "Skeletor." Even though he isn't central to the plot, he is fed properly, walked regularly and has his own cushioned bed, which is essential for a bony dog.

By the way, Reiser is in his eighth year of remission. If he makes ten, he will be considered a survivor!

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Here is a preview:
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