Rated 3.0

Cancer movies are emotional gold: whether it’s a manipulative Hollywood blockbuster with swelling string sections tugging at your heart on cue, or a more intimate unflinching portrait that doesn’t cut away when the patient and the people around them begin to fall apart. This based-on-a-true-story account (of screenwriter Will Reiser) starring the endearing Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a 27-year-old diagnosed with a rare form of cancer on his spine, and Seth Rogen as the best friend helping him navigate his way through the treatment, is a little bit of both. It plainly shows us the entire process—diagnosis, treatment, and the struggle and bonding with doctors, patients, friends and family members—and it does it with a natural humor born of the bond that exists between Gordon-Levitt and Rogen’s characters (though Rogen’s signature slovenly male-chauvinist shtick is wearing really thin). But, it also paints some broad strokes with constant, monochromatic musical transitions, and some very black-and-white characterizations, making some people dealing with cancer for the first time good, while others are evil. Overall though, a powerful (and funny) portrait of being caught off guard by an invisible killer at the prime of one’s life. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R