Regular newspaper-sized review available at the Herald.

I really, really liked 50/50. When I was driving home, I was mulling over the grade I’d give it, and my critic-brain was all “Yeah, that was quite enjoyable, but how does it stack up to the canon? What does your puny emotional response mean in the face of more than a century of classic films? Let us bestow a B+ upon it and be done.”

But then I thought about it some more, and my non-critic brain was all, “Yeah, but this movie really got to me. I thought the emotions felt really human and it was funny and the acting was great and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is like the Brando of my generation. It’s not your prototypical classic, but did we enjoy ourselves more at any other movie this year?” And then the critic-brain said, “Huh. No, there’s been some good stuff, but nothing awesome. Give it what you want.” For a funny, moving, well-written, great-actor film that had a deep understanding of human behavior and feeling? Thus was born my first A of the year.

There’s always a little hesitation to declare something great. Much easier to say “This was pretty good, but I’m not so sure about that milkman’s motivations!” and ding it a point or two. Nobody can do much complaining when they love something and your response was only mildly loving. And it’s not like loving 50/50 is that contrarian a position–its Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 93% (editor’s note: holy crap).

Ultimately, my reviews are written of the moment, composed 24-48 hours after a single viewing. It’s easy to get swept up in the moment or overly focused on some flaw that seems trivial with more perspective. With 50/50, I might look dumb a year from now. But I know how I felt in the minutes I was watching it.

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