NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by L
Adam Lerner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is running through the city. He runs through a bike path and eventually reaches a stop sign. He stops at the corner and patiently waits, despite the fact that there are no cars coming. Another jogger runs by him, but he waits until the sign changes to have the right of way. He starts running again but feels a pain in his lower back and begins wincing as he runs.
He returns home and takes a shower while his girlfriend, Rachael (Bryce Dallas Howard) wakes up and asks where her stuff has disappeared to. Adam tells her that he put all of her stuff into its own drawer since she’s been staying over more and more and it “made sense.” She smiles at the fact that they’ve become so domestic and tells him that she will be working late on her pieces for her upcoming gallery show. Adam hears a honk outside and leaves for work.
Adam’s best friend, Kyle (Seth Rogen), is waiting impatiently in the car. The pair stops at a coffee shop on the way to work and in line discuss Adam’s relationship with Rachael. Adam confesses that he and Rachael haven’t been sexually active in around three weeks, which strikes Kyle as odd. Kyle expresses his dislike of Rachael, but Adam simply states that they have a connection.
At work, Adam informs his boss that he’s completed the research on a volcano piece he’s been working on for 2 weeks and apologizes for being late. His boss laughs it off and, while appearing nice, fails to follow up on any of the points. It occurs to Adam that his boss doesn’t care, and Kyle points out that the man just wants radio segments. The two go about their job and at lunch Adam goes to the doctor’s office to get his back checked out.
After the tests, he sits patiently waiting in the doctor’s office. The doctor enters and pulls out a tape recorder, rapidly talking about Adam without actually telling him anything. Adam interrupts him and asks what is going on since he doesn’t understand what the doctor is saying. The doctor cuts right to the point: Adam has a very rare type of cancer which is genetically based and must undergo chemo in order to see if they can shrink the tumor. He zones out while the doctor tells him more about the condition and snaps back in time to ask if he is going to be ok. The doctor isn’t reassuring but tells him that if he needs someone to talk to, he can always talk to a psychiatrist here at the hospital.
Adam tells Rachael the news and tells her that he knows that it’s a tough thing to deal with. He tells her that if she can’t handle she has the opportunity to leave now with no hard feelings. Rachael puts on a brave face and masks her discomfort and uncertainty by hugging him and telling him that they will get through this.
When Kyle is told of his friend’s condition, he is instantly upset and asks what his chances of survival are. Adam tells him that the survival rate for his condition is 50%. Kyle points out that he has good odds and lists several celebrities who survived cancer: Lance Armstrong (He keeps getting it!), the guy from Dexter, and Patrick Swayze. Adam points out that Patrick Swayze died, and Kyle is legitimately surprised by how fucked up that is.
Two days later, Adam calls his parents, Diane and Richard, over for dinner with him and Rachael. Diane (Anjelica Huston) assumes that Rachael is pregnant but is horrified when Adam admits that he has cancer. She tells him that she’s moving in, but Adam tells her that she has enough on her plate looking after Richard (Serge Houde), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Diane wants to take care of him, but Rachael tells her that she will do it instead.
Adam begins his psychiatric sessions with Katie (Anna Kendrick), a trainee working on her doctorate. He discovers that he is only her third patient and is a little disturbed by her inexperience and quirks (she touches him to reassure him but comes off very awkwardly). She asks him how he feels, and he tells her that he is relaxed, but she tells him that he’s just in shock. Despite his insistence that he is relaxed, she makes him do relaxation exercises.
As Adam closes his eyes, he opens them back home with Rachael standing over him with a surprise: an old race hound named Skeletor that she saved from the pound. Adam doesn’t like him at first because he’s old but after Rachael tells Adam that if Skeletor goes back he’ll be put down, Adam acquiesces. The next day, she brings him to his first chemo session but doesn’t go in with him. She tells him that she doesn’t want to mix the bad with what they have. Adam accepts it and goes into his session.
During his chemo session, he befriends two chemo patients named Mitch (Matt Frewer) and Alan (Phillip Baker Hall). Alan offers him some macaroons that are full of pot. At first, Adam tells them that he doesn’t do drugs, and Richard insists. They tell him what kind of cancer they have and proceed to get high together. After his session, Adam walks through the hospital laughing at everything.
That night, Adam wakes up and wretches in the toilet violently, the drugs in his system making him horribly ill. He wakes up Rachael who is concerned but can’t really do much. When Adam goes in for his next session with Katie, he tells her that the drugs are starting to make him hurt all over and that he has a giant headache. He doesn’t want to talk about himself, instead begging for relaxation exercises. She is concerned about Adam’s wellbeing, so she gives him a list of books to get him through this.
At his chemo session with Mitch and Alan, the two older patients ask why they’ve never met Rachael despite being together for the last couple of weeks. Adam tells them that they can meet her after the session, but 20 minutes go by, and she doesn’t show up. After waiting an hour and a half, Rachael arrives and apologizes profusely, but Adam just says “you don’t have to do this. I gave you an out, remember?”
Kyle brings Adam to a bookstore and helps him get his books. He insensitively uses Adam’s condition to score a date with the store clerk and the two go out that night to an art showing while Adam stays at home with Skeletor ignoring his mother’s phone calls. Kyle keeps swearing profusely and ruins his date when he sees Rachael hooking up with a bearded artist who looks like Jesus. He is overjoyed to find the proof he needs to get rid of her and enthusiastically takes a photo of the pair kissing.
Rachael returns to Adam’s house and he tries to get her to cuddle, but she tells him that she just wants to go to bed. Kyle bursts through the door and immediately outs her as a whore. Adam takes the news badly and Rachael tries to convince him to go to bed and sleep on it, but Kyle tells her in no uncertain terms that she is to leave and not come back because she is a terrible human being.
The next day, Kyle takes Adam walking around the neighborhood with Skeletor and they run into a young woman with her dog. Adam doesn’t feel like talking to her but Kyle flirts which annoys Adam a bit, but he doesn’t mention it. Kyle tells him that since he is single, he could easily have gotten with that girl because cancer is his trump card.
Adam goes to his chemotherapy session and afterwards waits outside for the bus. Katie walks by and notices Adam and offers him a ride, refusing to take no for an answer. Adam is disgusted by the litter in her car, and she asks him how he’s holding up. He mentions that Rachael cheated on him, and Katie asks if he wants to talk about it. Instead of talking about his feelings, he has her pull over the car, and he throws out all her trash and helps clean her car. When they get to Adam’s house, she gives him her cell number, and Adam jokingly asks if he scored her digits. The situation’s awkwardness escalates as Katie tells him that it’s only for emergencies like when he needs someone to talk to.
Kyle hangs out with Adam, Mitch and Alan and the four get high together. Mitch’s wife brings them some wheat tea and she and Mitch cuddle for a bit before she goes to do some shopping. Adam is clearly struck by how caring their relationship is and sees what he was missing when he was with Rachael. When he and Kyle return to Adam’s house, they are interrupted by Rachael who wanted to come by and get her stuff. She asks Adam to talk in private and kisses him, telling him that she doesn’t want to break up and that she can do better. Adam tells her to get off his porch and asks why she left one of her paintings. She tells him that she made it for him, so Adam and Kyle trash it. They think it’s an improvement and hang the torn and burnt canvas on a wall.
The pair goes out to a bar and Kyle encourages him to tell girls he has cancer in order to get laid. After several disastrous attempts, Kyle manages to find a pair of girls who are interested enough that one will sleep with Adam. Adam is exhausted but offers them some of his medicinal weed to have a good time. He ends up having sex with one of them but his cancer prevents him from enjoying himself because of the pain in his back. He sees Kyle the next morning, happy with having gotten laid, and there is a disappointment etched on his face.
Adam goes to chemo and only sees Alan. He asks about Mitch and finds out that Mitch died last night. Adam is shocked and spends the next few days in a daze. He goes to Mitch’s funeral and then to Katie’s office. They discuss his family and Katie points out that Adam is a dick because Diane has to put up with a husband who can’t talk to her and a son who won’t, leaving her completely alone. He tells her that he’s accepted that he’s not going to make it. He tells her that the worst part is that everyone tries to be supportive, but they all keep toeing around the fact that he is going to die. He tells her that this has been a waste of time and that he doesn’t want to just be the anecdote she tells people about at cocktail parties. He leaves Katie worried about his mental state.
Adam calls Kyle but doesn’t get a response, so he calls his mother. The next morning, Diane and Richard drive him to his final appointment, the big one. Adam and Diane talk about her life a bit and Adam explains how he feels when the doctor returns and tells him that the tumor hasn’t grown. Their final option is surgery, and they will need to do it on Thursday in order to have a shot at beating it.
The night before the surgery, he and Kyle sit at the waterfront and reminisce about their younger years. Kyle jokes that Adam has always picked the wrong girl and Adam realizes something. They agree to go to a bar, but Adam asks if he can drive, since he has never driven before and might not even get a chance. Adam loses his shit and drives down the wrong lane before pulling over and forcing Kyle out of the car, screaming that Kyle was more concerned about fucking random whores than being there for him. Kyle is distraught and starts yelling at Adam when he sees Adam begin to make a phone call (to Rachael).
Instead of Rachael, Adam calls Katie to tell her that he’s sorry that he was such an asshole. He tells her that he is scared, afraid that he might never learn to drive or tell a girl he loves her. She tells him that he just had a very shitty girlfriend and Adam tells her that he thinks she’d be a good one. She wishes him luck on his surgery and tells him that she’s glad he called. Adam gets out of the car, and he and Kyle go into the city. At the end of the night, Adam takes Kyle home and Kyle collapses on his couch. Adam goes to wash his face in the bathroom and sees a dog-eared book on the shelf: Beating Cancer Together. Adam realizes that Kyle read it cover to cover and had been following it carefully to keep Adam stable. He smiles and walks home in the rain.
The next morning, Adam wakes up and slowly prepares himself, feeding Skeletor and kissing him goodbye. He finds Kyle waiting outside and they drive to the hospital. They don’t say good-bye and Kyle insists that he will see him after the surgery. Diane and Richard accompany Adam into the prep room,and Adam tells Richard that he loves him, even though he doesn’t really understand what is going on. Adam breaks down at the prospect of dying and hugs Diane before he is taken into the OR.
Katie sits outside of the waiting room near Adam’s parents and Kyle. They wait tersely for news about how Adam’s surgery went. The doctor comes out and tells them that Adam has a long road ahead of him, but he will make a full recovery. Katie visits him that night and he thanks her…while very high on morphine and peeing into a bag.
6 months later: Kyle changes Adam’s bandage and heads out while Adam prepares for his date. Katie arrives with a pizza and the two of them stand in his living room wondering where they will be going next.