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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review

27 Jul

Screen shot 2015-07-09 at 5.49.33 PM

Me and Earl is fun and charming, but it also has the ability to pack an emotional wallop. It’s a story filled with digressions, striking production choices, and hilarious movie parodies, and it takes you through the confusing times of adolescence as its characters come face to face with loss. For the most part, it’s funny and moving without feeling exploitative, and it’s a thoroughly enjoyable film that finds a nice balance between the comedic and dramatic.

The former is largely due to the myriad short films Greg and Earl produce, films whose titles the writing crew obviously had a lot of fun creating. They pop up at numerous points throughout the movie, providing both a structure of sorts and an interesting digression when needed, and they team up with Nick Offerman to deliver a majority of the first two acts’ laughs. The humor is by no means standard, and that feeds into the unique production design and varied camera movements by director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. This is not just a movie about a girl with cancer; it’s a movie about storytelling as well, about the way this teenage boy connects with the outside world.

Of course, it’s understandable that many people would find problems with this approach, and I agree to an extent. For the most part, the movie does well by its characters, but there are instances where “Earl” and the “dying girl” seem a bit like props to help Greg learn something about himself. This isn’t as bad as other movies have been in this regard, but there’s a college admissions subplot in here that’s particularly troublesome and lazy. This is all part of a third act that’s simultaneously the most powerful and most flawed aspect of the film, a third act that sees the movie embracing many of the cliches it deemed itself too cool to embrace. However, in the end, it’s also a third act that features a deeply affecting climax, one that is built on flimsy narrative choices, yet one that delivers an incredible emotional impact.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Connie Britton is a bit underused in this movie, sadly.

SPOILER SECTION:

-The long take in the bedroom in which Rachel decides to stop her treatment–which she technically isn’t allowed to do, considering she’s a minor–is really well done. A lot is said without need for dialogue, and Mann and Cooke are great there.

-I dislike the movie’s handling of the Madison character. The moose thing can be a fun little joke at first, but the continued use of it gets grating and sets up something bad that never really comes. Plus, she just ends up getting thrown aside at the end, which is part of why I find the hospital scene set-up to be weak.

-Nevertheless, the hospital scene is really beautifully filmed, and it certainly is powerful. I could’ve done without the whole “I’m writing this story for a college, and oh yeah, she’s actually dead” thing, but still.

-Here’s the gorgeous Explosions In the Sky song used to close out the movie (also used in Friday Night Lights!):

Photo credit: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Fox Searchlight Pictures

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3 Responses to “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Review”

  1. peggyatthemovies July 28, 2015 at 12:47 am #

    I truly enjoyed this film.. from walking in wanting & thinking I was going to hate it – to really loving it 30min in.. 🙂

  2. killkenny16 July 28, 2015 at 2:41 am #

    I’ve been meaning to see this one for a while now. It definitely looks like my kind of thing.

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  1. My Top 20 Films of 2015 | Polar Bears Watch TV - February 9, 2016

    […] Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: The concept makes this sound like your next exploitative teen drama, but the film is able to […]

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