PG-13  |  105 min  |  Drama
Review - Matt Mungle

Once in a while a film comes along that is so unexpected and wonderful that you want to make sure everyone knows about it and has the opportunity to see it. ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is that sort of film. 

It is very important that you don't dismiss this flick too quickly as some sort of teen riddled, angst filled, emotionally manipulating pity party. Yes there is a dying girl and yes they are all in High School, but the main heart of this story beats for young and old alike. Unless you are old and cranky and can't find humor and spirit in anything. If that is the case then I can't help you. 

Greg (Thomas Mann) is a that guy in school that we have all known or even been. He tries to never stand out but instead makes friends with all social groups so that he never offends anyone. His mom (Connie Britton) is doting and his dad (Nick Offerman) an odd tenured professor. So his home life is a bit eccentric. Greg mainly hangs out with his best buddy Earl (RJ Cyler). They watch classic movies and then adapt them, creatively, into their own short films. When Greg's mom asks him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate who has been diagnosed with cancer, it takes him into a whole other world of awkwardness.

This is a drama but never quite feels like it. The characters are so full of humor and personality that the dialogue and scenes always have an uplifting nature about them. Even during the serious moments the weight is taken off of you by their mannerisms and delivery. It is almost as if they do not want you to be sad. So as the story unfolds they continually entertain you with their antics, film parodies, and positive outlook. If not for that this would be just a heavy downer. But not once does it ever feel that way.

I have been a fan of Cooke since seeing her on the A/E series Bates Motel. Here she brings a range of emotion as her character copes with the hand she has been dealt. Mann is proving to be a solid young actor and here he plays the quiet, introvert so that it is endearing and real. As I mentioned you know this guy. And then there is Earl. Everyone needs a friend like this to egg them on in those moments that become the catalyst of adventure. He has no filter which brings many of the laughs in this dramatic story. 

The film really is not about Greg or Earl or the dying girl. Instead it is about friendship and how that is so vital to surviving any hard time; whether it is sickness, high school, or family weirdness. Having someone that unconditionally stands by your side is monumental. Writer Jesse Andrews nails this point splendidly in the way he crafts both the story and the characters. 

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL is rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements. It is a pretty tame film. The sexual content comes mainly from Earl and his missing filter. Though unnecessary and awkward for some viewers it is harmless. The meat of the movie overshadows anything that would come across as offensive. I give it 4 out of 5 sock puppets. It is original, endearing, funny, and heartbreaking. And it delivers all of that with a subtle hand. 

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