By: Peter Kosanovich
The definition of Underrated
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015): High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Before I start, I want to preface this review by saying this was easily both one of the funniest and one of the saddest movies I've ever seen! The first half to two thirds of the movie you are practically rolling in your seat, the laughs don't stop, but by the end you almost won't be able to stop crying because of how personal and intimate the story becomes.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an adaptation of the novel of the same name, written by Jesse Andrews. The film differs a bit from the novel, but Mr. Andrews wrote both, so he can do whatever he wants. And with that, let the plot begin.
Described in the opening line of the film "This is the story of my senior year in high school, and how it literally destroyed my life, and how I made a film so bad it literally killed someone." The movie starts with the audience meeting Greg, the "Me" in the title, a self-hating high school senior whose only real friend he refers to as his coworker. That will make sense later. Greg explains through montage and narration that he has figured out the secret to high school, instead of falling into the normal cliques that form - jocks, theatre kids, band geeks, pot heads - get on good terms with all groups, but don't really become friends with any of them. An interesting theory...? We then meet Earl, the coworker, but we don't learn much about him right away. Finally, we meet the "Dying Girl," Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia, and through her mom talking to Greg's mom Greg is forced to hang out with her. Yes, I do mean forced. He even tells her that...you can't get much more awkward than a guy telling a girl with cancer that his mom made him hang out with her, and that he doesn't even want to be there. Ouch. Slowly, or maybe not that slowly, the two actually bond, and become very close, hanging out daily as Rachel begins chemotherapy and misses more and more school. After not long Earl begins hanging with them as well and we finally learn that he and Greg make terrible parody movies together, hence coworker. It is suggested to them that they make a movie for Rachel, that that would be the best thing they could do for her.
That's the movie in a nutshell, but it's almost sad to leave the description so short. The movie relies on quirky, awkward humor that will leave you in stitches. That is, until the movie becomes so personal and intimate during the cancer diagnosis that you can't help bug shed a tear. No, seriously, people in the theatre with me literally could not stop crying.
Jesse Andrews and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon do a brilliant job of tackling a sensitive, and very personal topic for many people. They address it with good humor and tact, never going too far over the edge, and keeping a sense of heart throughout the film. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon also does an fantastic job of making this movie visually unique. He utilizes bizarre and interesting camera angles to help set the tone of the story and overall flow of action.
Critique: I absolutely loved this movie. Jesse Andrews and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon did brilliant jobs, and conveyed the story perfectly. It has humor, and heart, and sadness, and a complete story that is both sad and satisfying. Easily one of the best movies of the year.
Recommendation: I definitely recommend this movie, but it's hard to say for who exactly. I found it amazing and touching, but some people just don't like sad movies, despite how funny and clever it also is. I would probably recommend it to just about anyone, so long as they're prepared to likely cry.
Rewatchability: Also a tough one. The first half to two thirds of the movie I could watch just about any time, but the latter part of the film I would possibly need to be in a mood for. Regardless, I would definitely watch this movie again, no hesitation!
Rating: 8.7-9 It's just so solid, with such unique visuals
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