By Ranny Levy – President/Founder KidsFirst!
This film follows high schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl and finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Raven D., comments, “This film is beautiful, truly a must see for not only teens, but adults as well. It is so refreshing. It’s very rare that I find a movie that depicts what it’s like to be a teenager and grow up in this day and age with such honesty and genuine emotion.” See her full review below.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Reviewed by Raven D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a brilliant new coming of age film that follows coworkers Greg and Earl through their senior year of high school. Their seemingly quiet and low key lives are altered forever after befriending a classmate who has been diagnosed with cancer. In this new age masterpiece, Greg, Earl and Rachel must navigate through the treacherous territories of high school and growing up while dealing with Rachel’s illness.
This film is beautiful, truly a must see for not only teens, but adults as well. It is so refreshing. It’s very rare that I find a movie that depicts what it’s like to be a teenager and grow up in this day and age with such honesty and genuine emotion. The movie is narrated by Greg, played by Thomas Mann, with his internal dialogue. I resonated with that so much. This is not your typical high school, coming of age movie. This is a raw, real film that will move just about anyone.
Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and cinematographer Chung Hoon-Chung do an extraordinary job with the visuals of this film and creating characters out of the locations and sets. The unique and creative stance taken with the shot sequences and camera angles is fascinating. There are many scenes that are one long continuous shot or filled with unique zooming and panning techniques. Every shot is captivating and draws you deeper into the film, making every aspect of the movie flow seamlessly and take on a personality of its own.
In this movie, Greg and Earl occupy most of their time by making parodies of classic and foreign films. In many scenes, we get to watch a few clips from their homemade movies and it is very interesting to see all of the different styles and filmmaking tactics they use. They experiment with puppetry, stop motion, live action and many other film styles. It is so cool to see all of these different techniques in one movie, making Me and Earl and the Dying Girl feel like a true ode to cinema.
The heavy subject matter of cancer, life and death is balanced by brilliant humor that will leave you laughing out loud. But, this film is definitely not a comedy. I found myself crying on multiple occasions. This film really makes me think about my life and the people that are in it. I think one of the best things about film is when it makes you think long after the credits have stopped rolling. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of those gems of a film that really leaves you asking questions and delving into your thoughts.
It’s difficult to pick my favorite character because the cast is so studded with insanely talented individuals. The three main characters – Greg, played by Thomas Mann, Earl, played by RJ Cyler and Rachel played by Olivia Cooke, all work together so flawlessly. Watching their relationship grow and develop over the course of the film is wonderful. Thomas Mann is an amazing actor and this film really shows off his talent. In most of his feature films he plays the goofy awkward teen and it’s never much of a serious character, but in this film you are able to see the variety he brings to the screen. I am a huge fan of Olivia Cooke, she stars in Bates Motel and The Signal which is one of my favorite movies, watching her in this very challenging roll is phenomenal. Her character development over the course of the film is so moving. She deals with her illness in such a raw and real way while gracefully accepting what she cannot change. This is RJ Cylers’ first feature film and he does a wonderful job. His character Earl provides quite a bit of comedic relief while also staying very real and grounded. Although he’s not one to talk up a storm, when he does speak he often delivers a powerful message. There are so many amazing supporting actors in this film that really tie everything together, but it would take me forever to go over all of them so I’ll move on.
I can’t say I have a favorite scene because as I said before, every shot and every scene is captivating. There isn’t a single moment when I am uninterested in what I am seeing. The brilliant use of color, lighting, movement and setting to convey emotion is truly remarkable and should be inspiration for filmmakers everywhere.
This film does feature a bit of mature language since it is centered around high schoolers who are not always known to have the cleanest mouths, but I don’t think the profanity is gratuitous or unnecessary. It keeps the film very real. This movie is heavy because of the topics of illness and death. It definitely brought most of the audience to tears, myself included. So be prepared to have your heart strings pulled. I recommend this film for ages 13 to 18 and highly suggest that adults watch it as well because I believe that people of many age groups can relate to the film and find it enjoyable.
I give Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 5 out of 5 stars, so make sure you check it out in theaters this summer!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
By Declan L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl is a funny, yet a sad movie that will make you want more. This live-action, dramatic film is about a high school boy named Greg (Thomas Mann) who is forced by his mom (Connie Britton) to hang out with a girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who has leukemia. Now Greg and his coworker Earl (RJ Cyler) have to help Rachel feel better.
The three main characters have good team chemistry and you can see how much they bond throughout the film. My favorite character is Earl because he is very good at having comedic timing and also a lot of emotion.
There are also a lot of relatable moments in the movie, such as when Greg is in the cafeteria talks about all the different groups. That made me think of my own school.
The director, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, is amazing at creating unique screen shots. A place where you can see this is in all the little film parodies Greg and Earl make of classic films. You get to see how they make the classic films in their own unique ways by changing the title or adding some new things that weren’t in the film.
The music by Brian Eno and Nico Muhly is very pretty and fits with what is happening in the movie. The art department did a fantastic job on making everything look beautiful and having a lot of interesting art. A place where the art was gorgeous was near the end they had some cut books and they were very detailed and it looked like they took a lot of time on it.
The set done by Diana Stoughton looks very fitting to the story and reflected on how everyone lived in a poor neighborhood. My favorite part of the movie is the ending, but if you want to know why then go watch the movie.
The message of the movie is don’t give up, even when all hope is gone. I would recommend this to the ages of 13 to 18 because there is drug usage, cursing, and sad topics. I would rate this 5 out of 5 stars.
Ranny Levy – Founder and President
KIDS FIRST! / Coalition for Quality Children’s Media Supporting Quality Media for Children Since 1991
KIDS FIRST! Blog on Huffington Post
KIDS FIRST! on YouTube
KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions on Voice America Kids KIDS FIRST! Travel
112 W. San Francisco St. Suite 305A Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Ph: 505.989.8076 Fax: 505.986.8477