Rated R, 99 mins
Young people battling cancer aren't exactly a staple of movie comedy, but this nervy project from director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness
) mines a remarkable number of laughs from the situation. A mild-mannered editor for Seattle Public Radio (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns that he's dying of a rare spinal tumor, news that elicits less-than-noble responses from his sweetheart (Bryce Dallas Howard) and best pal (Seth Rogen). Skilled in both comedy ((500) Days of Summer
) and harsh drama (Manic
), Gordon-Levitt is one of the few 20-something actors who could pull off a role like this one, and screenwriter Will Reiser, drawing on his own battle with cancer, wisely focuses less on the specter of death than on the awkward personal situations it creates. The fear, anger, and despair of terminal illness barely pierce the movie's easygoing vibe, which becomes something of a problem in the second half, but for the most part this is fresh, sincere, and inquisitive. With Anna Kendrick and Anjelica Huston.