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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - a Movie Review

Chances are you will not see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Chances are if you see it listed, you'll skip right over it, thinking it is an art house indie flick and move on to the big ticket show of the weekend. Well it is an indie film. It also is the Grand Jury as well as the Audience Award winner of the Sundance Film Festival (and that of many other well known indie film festivals.)

Here is the skinny - Greg is a shy senior in high school, the nice guy who blends into the wallpaper and no one really sees. He is an acquaintance with many but truly friends with no one. Well no one except Earl, his best friend and co-worker. (They make parodies of classic movies.)

Then Greg's terribly overbearing obnoxious mother insists that he befriend Rachel, a girl he barely knows from school, who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. The story is that of their friendship. Earl tags along and plays an integral role in the story. In a way it is a coming of age story. In a way it is the story of a devoted friendship. 

The film is chocked full of dysfunctional parents, teachers, and fellow students. There are so many interesting side characters that you often wonder whose imagination they came from. The films Greg and Earl make are lame but very creative. Their movies have titles such as "Vere'd He Go" (Vertigo),  "Hairy, Old, and Mod" (Harry and Maude), and "Anatomy of a Burger" (Anatomy of a Murder).  

But inside all the weird characters, odd movies, and typical high school angst, there are three teenagers trying to figure it out. Greg (Thomas Mann) finds that it is OK to be himself and let fellow students either like him or not. Rachel (Olivia Cooke) grapples with cancer her senior year in high school and handles it as well as possible. And Earl (RJ Cyler) is the emotional anchor, the silent sage - the calm quiet guy who is always there for Greg. 

Throughout the movie, Greg provides narration giving the audience insight, such as assuring us Rachel will not die and informing us, that no, the two of them will not fall in love.

The film is funny, touching, and sad. It is sweet without the sap. It is wise without preaching. It is clean with no clutter and flows well. Once again this is a film that will silently go into the night like many indie films that are lauded by their peers and ignored by the crowds. What a waste. But I am telling you, find the film and see it. The 105 minutes will be well worth your time.

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