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With Jim Sabatini

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Thomas Mann, R.J. Cyler, Olivia Cooke and Jon Bernthal

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: June 12, 2015 Released by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Perhaps the indie counterpart to a wise, heartbreaking The Fault is in Our Stars has a more genuine, lofty component to it, even if a few of its cynical onlookers may feel that it also overextends its stay while appreciating a few of its thoughtful jokes.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, despite its long moniker, manages to ingratiate to a large degree despite a largely conventional form, especially from the bang-up job in seriocomedy territory from helmer Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and scripter Jesse Andrews (who works from his own book). It's relatable though the way it harnesses wit and drama can hardly be typical when it comes to dealing with outcasts and terminal illness.

Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, and Olivia Cooke are at least fine as Greg (the "Me"), Earl, and Rachel, with the former two, a lonely white kid and the more upfront and impatient black teen who comes from a tough area enjoy making short, pretty humorous satirical films like A Sockwork Orange and Senior Citizen Kane. During lunch these unlikely geeky chums take in Werner Herzog pictures with a modish history teacher (Jon Bernthal).

Being comfortable isn't easy for Greg with his father professor (Nick Offerman of The Kings of Summer) into unique, remote cuisine and harridan mom (Connie Britton of TV's Nashville). She coaxes him into spending time with Cooke's leukemia-diagnosed Rachel whom he really doesn't know to help break him out of an introverted shell.

How Me and Earl unfolds with an unhurried naturalness captures the creativity of Greg and Earl  (2:58 Cowboy has many followers among the deft clips seen) and the progressive, affirming bond of Greg and Rachel confirms the synchronicity of all talent involved. Cyler is surprisingly good and Mann definitely shows he can excel outside of the crude shackles of tripe like Project X. It helps that Cooke (up from Ouija and The Quiet Ones, though watchable on the small-screen Bates Motel) earns all the sympathy she deserves without being studied or peevishly emotively.

Nobody may be talking about a presumably artsy The Dying Girl like Stars did for Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elsgort and sizable box-office, yet its facile finesse and acerbic line-readings are among many applied qualities that will draw the attention of more studio bosses to invite future success for all involved.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Dayra Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl  C+      B+                     B- 

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