Friday Flicks: What Are the Odds of ’50/50′ Being A Hit?

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50

Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

50/50

Tagline: It Takes A Pair To Beat The Odds.

If you’re a glass half-full kind of character, the title 50/50 refers to the success rate Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has of surviving a rare form of spinal cancer. His good friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) isn’t so much glass half-full but glass needs filling up, for he’s defiantly determined that Adam can defeat his illness (he likens the survival rate to great odds if it were a game in the casino). It’s pretty clear we’re not in typical tragedy mode with this movie: “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I recycle,” Adam explains to the doctor when getting the horrific news, and you can kind of see where he’s coming from.

Director Jonathan Levine and screenwriter Will Reiser (it’s autobiographical for Reiser) have delivered a piece of work that rips up the rulebook and goes for it. And though it remains on the conventional side in so much that the devastating development isn’t easy for anyone (not just our two leads but girlfriend Bryce Dallas Howard and mother Anjelica Huston), it’s Anna Kendrick’s well-intentioned but rookie counselor Katherine that makes 50/50 closer to an 80/20. She stumbles, reboots and sometimes says the wrong thing (a trait shared by the cast) but only in the interest of doing the right thing. Throw into the mix a flirtation and you’re not only rooting for Adam to survive but to see where their relationship might be headed next. For as Kendrick’s previous film tells us, it’s Up in the Air.

(LIST: TIME’s Top 10 Movies of 2010)

Dream House

Tagline: Once Upon A Time There Were Two Little Girls Who Lived In A House.

Life can sometimes be stranger than fiction. They might have kept their nuptials on the hush-hush, but it’s all too easy to suggest that Daniel Craig and his new wife, Rachel Weisz, are looking to live in a dream house of their own. The reason for the far more schmaltzy than usual opening is because – yes! – Dream House happens to be the name of their new movie.

Craig plays Will Atenton, a successful publisher who has quit his New York job and life in order to relocate his wife, Libby (Weisz), and two girls to an all together less stressful part of New England (though if they’re fans of the Boston Red Sox, that may not be the case).

But as things start to develop, they find out that their new home, which seems perfect on the surface, was once the murder scene of a mother and her children (and the estate agents don’t tell you that when they’re trying to convince you to move in). What makes it even more uncomfortable is that the locals are of the opinion that it was the husband who survived what did it (as they might say in Craig and Weisz’s native England). Will begins to look closer into the tragic events, but his only assistance is courtesy of neighbor Ann Paterson (Naomi Watts). The pair piece together the puzzle … and to say any more might just give the game away. But if the newlyweds are to team up again, they might want to consider Weisz being the Moneypenny to Craig’s James Bond as Dream House doesn’t seem to convince in the licensed to thrill department.

(PHOTOS: James Bond: Escape Artist)

What’s Your Number?

Tagline: Ally’s looking for the best ex of her life.

A recent New Yorker profile of the actress Anna Faris tried (at some length) to get the bottom of the question that puzzles both her and some of the movie industry: why is she not a far bigger star? And when you consider how the likes of Katherine Heigl can open movies with, at best, a similar talent to Faris, it’s a question worth asking.

Indeed, her sparkling cameo as the vapid actress Kelly, allegedly based on Cameron Diaz (“And we both have two dogs, and we both live in L.A., so we have all these different things in common”) in Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation nearly a decade ago promised great things. But followups such as the Scary Movies, The House Bunny and Observe and Report, haven’t done much for her standing. Will What’s Your Number buck the trend and put Faris on the road to Diaz-esque roles? Not that she necessarily wants that, which adds to the more-complex-than-it-really-should-be Faris conundrum.

She plays Ally, who is inspired by a survey that suggests that, “In America, 96% of women who’ve been with 20 or more lovers can’t find a husband.” Wouldn’t you know it, that happens to be almost the number of men Ally has been with, and so she revisits her list (aided by womanizing neighbor Chris Evans … yeah, we can predict where that’s headed) to see if a one-time Mr. Wrong is now very much Right.

One imagines that the success of What’s Your Number (which is based on the book 20 Times a Lady by Karyn Bosnak) will depend on whether the Bridesmaids crowd consider it worthy of their cash (not that it matters but a wedding plays a key part here too). Irrespective of the answer, Faris could do worse than hooking up with its star, Kristen Wiig, for her next venture: she might not be Mr. Right, but it could be exactly what Faris has been looking for all along.

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: Chances are you could have called it: 50/50 is the 100% choice.

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Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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