Big Screen: Me And Earl and the Dying Girl
September 18th 2015
Can you imagine being really sick, and then putting up with some guy from school who you barely know coming and moping around in your room because his mum made him?
It’s a bizarre experience watching Me and Earl and the Dying Girl right after the recent movie Dope. They are almost mirror images of each other. Both are slick, indie (but not really) movies that hit big at Sundance. Both have attractive lead actors playing supposedly nervous and socially-ignored geeks. Both feature an underwritten supporting male and female friend who exist only to give the lead someone to talk to and to learn important life lessons from.
And both are achingly, oppressively phoney… but still kind of work.
See if this doesn’t alert your bullshit detectors: our lead character Greg supposedly drifts through high school making a big deal about purposely not joining any group, which somehow makes him both respected and ignored. He also obsessively makes silly parodies of classic movies with his best friend – who is not a character so much as a racially problematic sounding board that stands around, inexplicably devoted to our lead despite him being a total jerk. Then, one day, Greg learns that a girl from his school has cancer, and for some reason his mum forces him to go and hang out with her.
Can you imagine being really sick, and then putting up with some guy from school who you barely know coming and moping around in your room because his mum made him? Well, this is the premise of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
I still kind of liked it though.
It’s briskly edited, funny and visually inventive.
The leads are all great and do their best to sell this stupid scenario. In fact, the first two acts are kind of brilliant in spite of the story, and the director, Alfonso Gomez, could go on to do some great things.
By the third act, though, I started to get irritated at how the movie solely focused on Greg despite him being a hopelessly self-absorbed whiny dickhead that I didn’t care about. The far more interesting and sympathetic characters of Earl and the Dying Girl were only there so Greg could learn important life lessons. And suddenly, it just didn’t sit right with me.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a mixed bag. There is a lot to like, but also some big miscalculations and nonsense. You could do worse, but you could do a lot better.
MORE FROM SAM CLARK: