"ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL" - *1/2 (104 minutes)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl movie poster
Wednesday May 20, 2015
As a longtime champion of independent cinema (as my attendance at Sundance for seven years can attest) it was with great anticipation when I sat down for a preview of this years Dramatic Grand Jury and Audience Award winner at Robert Redford's festival last January.  Unfortunately, anticipation melded into utter perplexity.  For me, "Me and Earl and The Dying Girl" is this years "Juno".  You can count me in the minority of critics who gave thumbs down on that 2007 Jason Reitman directed Indie that incredibly made its way to the Academy's Best Picture list. 
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed the coming-of-age cliché-ridden script by newcomer Jesse Andrews that focuses on teenager Greg (Thomas Mann), whose annoying narration explaining his thoughts and actions throughout had me cringing nearly the entire length of this disappointing film.  We follow Greg, a self-professed self-indulged loner and geek, who is persuaded by mom (Connie Britton) to pay a visit to Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who happens to be dying of cancer -  a classmate he has never met.  When he shows up, he is greeted at the door by Rachel's boozed-up mom (ex-Saturday Night Live veteran, Molly Shannon) whose character can best be described as creepy as she fawns over the teenager at her door - and throughout the film .  
Greg and Rachel's meeting is naturally awkward -  especially when Greg reveals he is only visiting as a charity request by his parent.  Of course, this leads to a inspirational platonic relationship where Rachel "teaches" Greg to be a more caring grown-up human being. 
Introduced into the story is Greg's African-American friend since childhood,  Earl (RJ Cyler) whom he refers to as his "co-worker".  It seems both have interpreted the world through old film classics and went about creating satirical videos (e.g. The 400 Bros, The Sockwork Orange, and 2:48 p.m. Cowboy).  Their humorous work is scattered throughout, and are the highlights of the movie. 
It is ironic that the word "honest" is mentioned during the film to describe the principals.  However, for me, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is chock full of  characters that are not fully drawn and was, ultimately, a letdown. 

You can accurately predict where the narrative is leading and, in the end, I could have cared less - other than when it would all end. 
The movie opened nationwide on June 12.

UPCOMING:  The Indie AI Sci-Fi  "Ex Machina"
Rachel (Olivia Cooke), Greg (Thomas Mann) and Earl
(CJ Cyler)

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