Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ certainly has a number of things going against it. It’s a movie about a boy meeting a girl while she is dying of cancer exactly a year after another movie about boy meeting a girl who is dying of cancer. It has a horrible title. It’s actors are unrecognizable to most. Despite its outstanding show at Sundance, it has gone relatively under the radar as far as press is concerned. And it’s fairly cold emotionally when considering its a movie about a girl dying of leukemia.
Still, it does have a secret weapon up its sleep that makes up for most of its faults. That secret weapon is a shit ton of laughs that come just about every minute or two. As a matter of fact, this is the one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year. I’m sure that much of the credit for this lies at the feet of its writer/director, but I want to give big props to Thomas Mann for his performance as Greg.
Greg is the ‘Me’ in the title and it’s his comedic chops that keep this ball rolling smooth through most of the films 105 minute running time. He is especially funny when joking around with Rachel (Olivia Cooke). She is the dying girl. The movie makes it pretty clear early that they are not worried she is going to die. So, they can just play the whole developing friendship between Greg and Rachel for as many laughs or smiles as possible. Which works pretty well until the emotional stuff comes around.
Don’t get me wrong, the actors do a good job with the emotional scenes and the writing isn’t bad. It’s more the tone of the movie that leaves the deep scenes without emotional heft. This is a movie that badly needed a music producer to deliver the right to at the right time for maximum manipulation. Oh well, I was moved once and I guess that will have to be enough.
The other major player in this film is Earl (RJ Cyler). Greg refers to Earl as his business partner because they have made parodies of old movies together since they were little, but they are friends. Earl is one of those mostly silent characters that surprises with moments of eloquence here and there. Sometimes this is played for laughs, but it is mostly used as a way to explain Greg’s insecurities with himself and help to teach him a lesson.
If your in the mood for a laugh that is more intimate than the one you would get from a movie like ‘Spy’, then this movie is certainly worth a look. It’s a good little movie.