By Megan Bianco
After making a huge splash during the festival circuit last spring, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl finally arrives to indie theaters this month. Though it’s become natural to compare artsy teen movies to Napoleon Dynamite (2004) and Juno (2007), Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s film adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ novel is actually more along the lines of Garden State (2004) and (500 Days) of Summer (2009).
During his senior year of high school, self-imposed loner Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) decides to spend his last year as he has the previous three years— aloof and hidden from the rest of the world. The only thing he is committed to in his life is remaking classic films as amateur home movies with his best friend Earl (R.J. Cyler). When his parents (Connie Britton and Nick Offerman) push him to start socializing with classmate Rachel Kushner (Olivia Cooke), who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, his life takes a sudden turn.
Molly Shannon co-stars as Rachel’s mom and Katherine Hughes plays Greg’s school crush. Gomez-Rejon has all the ingredients for a cute, fun flick, but something is holding it back from being stellar. Mann, Cyler and Cooke are remarkable presences, especially the latter two, who are rather talented newcomers. But Andrews’ dialogue and persona traits he’s given his characters sound and look almost like a cliché of twee hipster-isms from almost a decade ago. Me and Earl isn’t exactly bad, in fact the aesthetics are beautiful, but those who aren’t teenagers will probably feel déjà vu.