The AV Club – ★★★½
While Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has many of the hallmarks of a teenage movie we’ve seen too many times before it has enough new elements and nifty camerawork to warrant your attention. Greg’s Mom makes him hang out with Rachael, a girl he sort of knows who has recently been diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukaemia). Greg has managed to make high school a pretty painless experience by keeping in with all the various factions without ever committing.
His only friend, or co-worker as he calls him, is Earl who he met when he was a kid and developed a love of classic films both domestic and international. Greg and Earl make cheap homages to their favourite films which are peppered throughout the movie. Once their films are exposed they decide to make one for Rachael but with the stakes so high they aren’t quite sure what to make. The director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s use of a voice-over and titles to explain the narrative work when they easily could have been clunky and clichéd. Adapted from Jesse Andrews novel these devices make the transition to the silver screen that little bit more manageable.
The supporting cast is solid with Nick Offerman playing a hippy type as Greg’s dad and Connie Britton is excellent as Greg’s Mom who just wants the best for her child. Rachael’s Mother played by Molly Shannon is surprising as she provides much of the humour with her borderline alcoholic antics. Jon Bernthal makes a small appearance as a History teacher giving rise to one of the funniest segments.
The main trio of Thomas Mann (Greg), RJ Cyler (Earl) and Olivia Cooke (Rachael) all work well together giving the film a warm and realistic tone. No punches are pulled and the grim reality of cancer is laid bare for all to see. While The Fault In Our Stars dealt with a similar theme, here the story seems more real and believable, not pandering for tears.
While it may not be a classic like The Breakfast Club and falling just short of the not too distant gem The Perks of Being A Wallflower, it’s safe to say this generation of teens are in safe hands.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl opens nationwide Friday 4th of September