“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”: Not Stuck On Sad

Anyone who buys a ticket to a film called “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” goes in fully expecting to cry. It’s sort of a given. The surprise, then, is the laughter: the near-constant stream of wise, insightful jokes that make it so easy to cozy up to characters dealing with a tough emotional situation. Peter Debruge, Variety

“A teenage filmmaker befriends a classmate with cancer,” succinctly states IMDB about the highly praised award-winning Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. “Me” is Greg (Thomas Mann); “Earl” (RJ Cyler), his best friend; “dying girl” is Rachel (Olivia Cooke).

Does the boy-girl friendship deepen into romance? Does the dying girl, well…die? What’s with “me and Earl”? Is it oh so predictable and serious?

Not really. Gregory Ellwood, Hitfix: “Both [Alfonso] Gomez-Rejon and writer Jesse Andrews (who adapted his own 2013 novel) seem very aware of how this genre can become predictable and they constantly disrupt the audience’s expectations in different ways.” So, there.

More about the plot from A.O. Scott, New York Times: “’Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ is about growing up, facing death, making and losing friends and other rites of passage, but it’s also, and more immediately, about drifting, hanging out, wasting time and succumbing to confusion. And it provides three young people in whose company it is a pleasure to drift and wonder and loaf.”

Who Is Greg?

More from Ellwood, Hitfix:

Greg has spent most of high school trying to be casual friends with everyone while remaining as invisible as possible at the same time. He avoids the ‘Gaza Strip’ battleground of the school cafeteria by eating lunch in the office of Mr. McCarthy (an almost unrecognizable Jon Bernthal), his history teacher, and spends his time watching foreign language flicks with Earl (a fantastic RJ Cyler). Even though he’s known Earl since they were five-years-old he’d want you to know they aren’t friends but ‘co-workers’ (Greg appears to have an issue with getting close to people). The two spend most of their free time creating their own skewed versions of classic films such as ‘Senior Citizen Kane’ and ‘2:48 PM Cowboy.’

Greg and Rachel

John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter:

Forced by his pushy mom (Connie Britton) to visit a girl he hardly knows who was just diagnosed with leukemia, Greg is appalled. But while Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is similarly aghast at the parentally obligated pity date, she soon proves an easy crowd for Greg’s comic material — the sort of smart, self-deprecating wit that is the stock-in-trade of teenage boys who know they’re not living up to their potential.

They hit it off, becoming fast friends, and the movie knows what you’re thinking: More than once, Greg’s winning voiceover…points out that no, this is not where the two are going to lock eyes, declare their love and tumble into each other’s arms. (Their failure to do that doesn’t mean they’re not in love.)

The Trailer for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice: “…may not be the best teen cancer weepie ever made, if there even is a best teen cancer weepie. But it’s surely the most adorable, for better or worse — less like The Fault in Our Stars and more like Diary of a Wimpy Kid reconfigured for a slightly older, hipper audience, and with cancer thrown in.”

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