Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Movie Review

June 12, 2015 0 Comments

In a season filled with remakes and adaptations, its good to find something original once in a while. Although, if you’re tired of the consistence uncreative Hollywood stories, you won’t be much surprised by a movie titled Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; however, at the same time, it’s one of those films shows what the director (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon) can accomplish when they challenge tired reused formulas and take risk.

I don’t need to tell you that this isn’t the first “I’ve got cancer” story, and this is hardly one that will put and tears in your eyes but elements of comedy, drama and a good overall story can make any film like this workable. It works even better when you have a cast that is virtually unknown, such as Thomas Mann, who plays Greg Gaines.

You might recognize him from other works such as Project X (2012), which I haven’t seen. The only film that I have seen containing this actor would be Welcome to Me (2015), and I really don’t remember which character he plays in the film. I guess his performance wasn’t that memorable in that film.

However, you don’t need to worry about any forgettable performances as his role, Greg Gaines, portrayed as a slick, wise-talking and humorous high school teenager. He’s very good at keeping attachments to a minimal, and staying invisible; however, he remains just visible long enough to maintain causal friendships with all the groups in school, without worrying about getting caught up in the external conflicts between different social groups.

Although he is good at making people laugh and telling people what they want to hear, he isn’t so good at making friends. This is evidence with the one person Greg chooses to associate with on a regular basis: Earl (RJ Cyler). In fact, Greg and Earl aren’t really friends (at least, that is not how Greg sees it).Greg prefers to refer Earl as his ‘co-worker,’ as the two are filmmakers. They love to watch old classic films and make parodies of the films on their spare time.

Some of these times include Eyes Wide Butt (Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick, 1999), Pooping Tom (Peeping Tom, Michael Powell, 1960), A Sockwork Orange (A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick, 1971), and one of my all-time favorite titles, Don’t Look Now, Because a Creepy-Ass Dwarf is About to Kill You!!! Damn. (Don’t Look Now, Nicolas Roeg, 1973). These films are all low budget and they’re all terrible, which is the point. It’s probably one of the funniest things about the film. It’s also one of the biggest secrets, as Greg and Earl do not share these films with anyone, except one.

Rachel (Olivia Cooke) the one person who managed to obtain a special bond with Greg, the one person who doesn’t consider anyone his friend. She also plays ‘The Dying Girl,’ as she just discovered that she has Lukemia (Cancer of the blood and bone marrow). She and Greg barely knew each other at one time. The only reason why Rachel and Greg decided to hang out was because Greg’s Mom (casted as Greg’s Mom, credited as Connie Britton) forced him to hang out with Rachel, by doing something all mothers do: being overly nagging and super annoying.

It worked, against his benefit, and Greg takes a trip to Rachel’s house in an attempt to hang out. Of course, you’ll never forget about Rachel’s overly flirtatious mother, Denise (Molly Shannon) providing a bit of comedic relief and taking the news of her daughter’s illness much better than most mothers would. Rachel, not being as optimistic (and rightfully so) has no interests in receiving Greg’s pity. However, Greg manages to use his slick talking humor to win Rachel over, and they begin the hangout.

The relationship becomes more than one simple favor to a nagging mother turns into a series of casual interactions between the two. It even becomes more complicated when you have all of the things Greg has to deal with from school, whether its accidentally letting the news out that Rachel as Lukemia or whether he and Earl “ accidentally ingested drugs.” He even has a difficult time interacting with his love interests, Madison (Katherine C. Hughes), who compares her to a Moose walking along the forrest, blissfully unaware of all of the people she is harming by “trampling smaller unsuspected animals in the wild.”

Final Verdict: B+

As said before, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl doesn’t exactly offer anything that the world of cinema hasn’t exactly seen before; however, it’s certainly not the plot that makes the film work. The film really couldn’t work without the performances of Mann and Cooke. Both have very limited experience on the sliver screen, which only works to the benefit of the story, as the role demands someone without their star power complicating matters.

Matters such as finding an actress who is willing to put of with the no-so-glamorous role of Rachel. Aside from Charlize Theron, there are very few actresses that are willing to shave their head for a role in a film. It’s rare, especially with much younger and unseasoned actresses who are looking to make a name for themselves in such a competitive field. Then you have newcomer, Cyler, who serves as the comedic relief in forging the bond between Greg and Rachel.

The gerne is all too predictable, as writer Jesse Andrews (adapted from the 2013 novel by the same name) already knows. However, if you’re not too familiar with the novel, you would most likely expect a very sad ending, and you most likely would be right. There are some elements that offers something different from the usual dramatic sad story.

Right now, the film is playing in limited quantity with very few locations showing, but if you’re into something different from the usual feel good blockbuster, it’s worth looking at.

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