"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is a love story to die for, so says Access Hollywood's Scott "Movie" Mantz in his latest review…
- “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”
- Starring: Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler
- Directed by: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
- Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A special movie like “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” deserves a special kind of review, so I thought I’d structure mine like the format of the film, which is divided into chapters. So here we go...
THE PART WHERE 'ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL' TOOK THE 2015 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL BY STORM
Every year at Sundance, there’s at least one movie that becomes the talk of the festival. In past years, those movies were “The Blair Witch Project” (1999), “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006) and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012). This year, that movie was “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” Within moments of its January 25th premiere at the Eccles Theater, where it got an extended standing ovation, the Internet exploded with the word that this was the breakout hit that moviegoers (and bleary-eyed critics) were waiting for.
Then Fox Searchlight Pictures, the specialty label behind the last two movies to win the Oscar for Best Picture – “12 Years a Slave” and “Birdman” – scooped in and acquired the indie for a high seven-figure sum. It was money well spent, because not only does “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” live up to its promise as a charming, very funny and delightful crowd-pleaser, but it also could (and should) turn out to be the sleeper hit of the summer.
‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ (Fox Searchlight)
THE PART WHERE I DESCRIBE THE PLOT (WITHOUT GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY)
Well, the title kind of says it all. (Or does it?) The “Me” is Greg (Thomas Mann), a self-described “terminally awkward” teenager who loves movies. “Earl” (RJ Cyler) is the closest thing he has to a best friend, due to their shared passion for film. Together, they waste their time making short films that parody the classics, like “Vertigo” (“Ver’d He Go?”), “A Clockwork Orange” (“A Sockwork Orange”) and “Eyes Wide Shut” (“Eyes Wide Butt”).
The “Dying Girl” is Rachel (Olivia Cooke), whom Greg vaguely knows at his Pittsburgh high school. When Greg’s mother (Connie Britton) informs him that
Rachel has been diagnosed with cancer, he reluctantly agrees to spend time with her in an effort to cheer her up. In doing so, he soon learns to appreciate the true value of friendship, as well as the healing power of movies.
THE PART WHERE I PRAISE 'ME AND EARL' AS ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREAT HIGH SCHOOL COMEDIES
Based on the young adult novel written by Jesse Andrews (who also wrote the screenplay), “Me and Earl” stands alongside recent independent gems like “The
Spectacular Now” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” as one of the best high school set movies in recent years. As directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the film is infused with a quirky and offbeat sensibility that recalls the best of Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom”) and John Hughes (“The Breakfast Club”) while also being deeply heartfelt, sensitive and intimate. It’s also a love letter to classic movies that features a surprise cameo (of sorts) from one of the X-Men (yes, you read that right!), and the ending packs an emotional wallop that will stay with you long after you leave the theater.
THE PART WHERE I GIVE PROPS TO THE ACTORS
Without the right chemistry between the main actors, a deep and intimate movie like “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” would never work. Fortunately, co-stars Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and RJ Cyler have chemistry to spare, which is what ultimately knocks the film out of the park.
The supporting performances are just as strong, particularly Connie Britton and Nick Offerman as Greg’s soulful parents. Molly Shannon is also wonderfully loopy as Rachel’s endearing mother, who can’t quite come to grips with her daughter’s illness, while Jon Bernthal is the effective voice of reason as Greg’s supportive teacher.
THE PART WHERE I WRAP THIS BABY UP!
So yes, if you haven’t guessed, I loved “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” And I’m guessing you will too, especially if you’ve reached that point in the summer where you need a break from superheroes, car chases and dinosaurs. So, if you’re looking for a heartfelt movie with delightful characters that will stir your emotions, then “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is the movie for you.
-- Scott Mantz