Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is Endearing and Surprisingly Humorous
With a title like “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”, I went into this expecting a movie that would be too sentimental, too predictable, or too overwhelmingly sad to fully enjoy. Instead, I got a movie that was very witty and unique, and actually brought me more laughs than most of the movies I’ve seen this year.
The movie seems to begin like any typical “coming of age” high school movie; it’s Greg’s senior year and he’s just trying to make it by while trying to figure out what he wants to do after high school. But it goes far beyond this basic plot line when Rachel, a girl Greg knows from school, is introduced. They barely know each other, but when Greg’s overbearing mom finds out that Rachel has been diagnosed with Leukemia, she forces Greg to go over and hang out with her. This marks the beginning of an unorthodox friendship between the two.
Greg is an awkward “lone wolf” type who is so afraid of commitment that he can’t even refer to Earl, a kid he’s grown up with and known all his life, as his friend – he refers to him only as his “co-worker”, because they create short films together. Greg is sarcastic and funny, but completely self-critical. So it’s no surprise that his relationship with Rachel isn’t sappy or passionate, but more laid-back and relatively void of any acknowledgement of what she’s going through. I really appreciated this, though. It’s very real. This movie is much more accurate in its depiction of how high school students would likely react in such a serious situation than any “A Walk to Remember”-type film, and I commend it for that.
It wasn’t only the way in which the characters interacted that made the film unique, but the cinematic elements as well. For one, there were unexpected stop-motion animations interspersed throughout the film. They were humorous and often reflected Greg’s thoughts, and they added an interested aspect. There were also captions when there were scene changes, which I thought were really funny. Even the camera angles were often irregular and interesting, and changed the dynamic of the scenes. All of these choices contributed to the movie’s quirkiness, and pushed it far past typical.
The casting in this movie was phenomenal. Thomas Mann as Greg was fantastic; he was perfectly awkward and weird and lost, and you couldn’t help but like him. Olivia Cooke, who played Rachel, was also amazing, but I really hope she doesn’t get typecast as a “dying girl”. I only knew her before from Bates Motel, where she plays a character with cystic fibrosis, so I’d like to see what she can do in a totally different type of role! Although she only appeared a few times, Molly Shannon was pretty funny as Rachel’s uncomfortably flirty/alcoholic mother. Earl, who was played by RJ Cyler, and Greg’s dad, played by Nick Offerman (you probably know him as Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation) both served well as comic relief throughout the movie.
Overall, this movie was very good. I really liked Greg and how weird he was, and how weird Rachel could be with him. I enjoyed Earl as a supporting character, and appreciated the cinematic choices the director used. The film went from laugh-out-loud funny to serious to downright sad, but the director knew exactly how much of each emotion to use – and when to use them – in order to keep the film balanced. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a genuine, quirky movie that’s sure to move you.
You can find Me and Earl and the Dying Girl on Execulink’s VOD channel (ch.100) from Oct. 6th to Feb. 28th.
Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor
Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.