When I think of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” I think about baby made by Wes Anderson, John Hughes and Diablo Cody. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Thanks to a terrific screenplay from Jesse Andrews (author of the novel), amazing direction from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and very strong cast, this could possible be one of my favorite films 2015. There are hints of Wes Anderson’s direction and color palette, along with the charm of a John Hughes teenager film and the quirkiness of Diablo Cody. It’s a funny, emotional indie film that demands attention.
Greg (played by Thomas Mann) has managed to become friends with every social group in high school, even though he is an awkward and self-loathing teenager. He calls his friend Earl (played by RJ Cyler) his “co-worker” because the two of them spend time making their own films based off of other foreign films. Plus, the two of them manage to spend lunchtime in Mr. McCarthy’s office (played by Jon Bernthal), watching YouTube videos, etc.
One day, life changes for Greg when his mom (played wonderfully by Connie Britton) and dad (the hilarious Nick Offerman) break the news to him that one of his classmates, Rachel (played by Olivia Cooke) has leukemia. Greg hasn’t really talked to Rachel since Hebrew school, but his mother is forcing him to hang out with her and make her feel better as she goes through her struggle. The first encounter is awkward, especially since Rachel feels like Greg feels guilty because of her condition. But the two of them start to hit it off and become very good friends.
Greg introduces Rachel to Earl and the two men show her some of their films. Rachel falls in love with their work and cannot seem to get enough of them. Her condition starts to get worse as the film goes on, due to the chemotherapy, which means Greg starts spending more time with her and less time at school. This is problematic in a way because Greg’s mom and Rachel really want him to go to college, but his grades are declining due to his extra time with Rachel.
Another issue going on in Greg’s life is his high school crush Madison (played by Katherine C. Hughes). She always seems to approach Greg with a hand on his shoulder, looking for a favor. This time around Madison thinks Greg and Earl should make a film for Rachel, since she is not doing well. This means Greg ignores coursework even more in order to make and finish the film before things get worse. It’s emotional roller coaster as more issues arise between Greg and Earl, as well as Greg and Rachel. But please note, Greg assures that Rachel does not die.
The casting of this film is quite good, thanks to the chemistry between Greg, Earl and Rachel. Thomas Mann portrays the awkward teenager quite well, with some charm and humor. The lovely Olivia Cooke makes it even more better with her snappy wit, charm and beauty. The two of them together make an excellent friendship pair, with RJ Cyler adding in some excellent moments as well, even if he kind of gets the lesser part.
As for the supporting cast, Connie Britton and Nick Offerman are the standouts as Greg’s parents. They are a very liberal, kind of hippish couple. They portray this fun, but morally sensitive characters that make you love them. They would be awesome parents to have. Plus, Molly Shannon plays Rachel’s mom, which is perfect. I adore her.
As for the direction, again Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has hit a home run with his style. He has definitely studied the early films of Wes Anderson, John Hughes and Diablo Cody. From the text that appears on screen to introduce scenes to the color choices and music, this is definitely one of the strongest directions that I have seen from a film in 2015 so far. Plus, what’s better than having the author of the novel, Jess Andrews, providing the screenplay? Stick to the one who knows the stuff. He has written something fantastic, showcasing smart dialogue.
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a truly wonderful film. From the direction to the screenplay, the film oozes some familiar counterparts from other filmmakers, but it’s unique enough to stand on its own as a beautiful piece of filmmaking. Sadly, it will be forgotten at the Oscars. Rated PG-13.