Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is a smart quirky, charming and very funny comedy adapted by Jesse Andrews based on his own YA novel.
Greg is in his last year of high school and up until now he has remained largely invisible, which is how he likes it. Greg believes he has cracked the secret to an easy life in high school through being casual acquaintances with several social groups rather than committing participation within a single clique.
His only ‘friend’ or ‘co-worker’, as Greg prefers to call him, is Earl. Together they make movie parodies of famous films with titles such as A Sockwork Orange (featuring sock puppets and orange juice) and Breathe Less.
One-day Greg’s mum coerces him into befriending Rachel, whom has just been diagnosed with leukaemia, despite the fact that Greg protests on the grounds that he doesn’t really know her that well.
This is where the film could plunge into movie clichés with the typical romance blossoming in a time of sorrow but it does not. Instead Greg and Rachel engage in an honest and often frustrating and anguished friendship.
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is very funny from the off, interspersed with snippets of charming stop motion animation featuring knitted puppets to indicate Greg’s emotional response to an attractive girl talking to him.
The humour is quirky and smart; the characters are well drawn and authentic. Perhaps the one criticism is that Earl’s story is not as fleshed out as Greg and Rachel. He lives in a visibly poorer area of town with a slightly maniacal drug dealing brother and his vicious bulldog. We don’t find out much about his family and only see him through the gaze of his relationship to Greg.
As one may expect from the title the film does have moments of sorrow but these are beautiful played by all involved. Molly Shannon is excellent as Rachel’s mum, drowning her sorry in alcohol but also comedically flirting with both Greg and Earl throughout.
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who was the assistant to Martin Scorsese, which means there are a few references littered about the screen. Rejon also frames the film in interesting and intriguing ways; giving us exclusive insight into their relationships and view of their world.
This is one of my favourite films of the year so far; it is packed with humour, emotion and charm and never feels clichéd or derisive. It will stay with you.