Greg is a 17 year old boy whose mother asks (forces) him to befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke in a role not to unsimilar to the one she plays in the ‘Psycho’ TV spin off series ‘Bates Motel’) who’s been diagnosed with leukemia.
Greg makes low-budget funny versions of classic movies (mainly from the Criterion Collection catalogue) with his friend Earl. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ becomes ‘A Sockwork Orange’, ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ becomes ‘Anatomy of a Burger’ Les 400 Coups’ a.k.a. ‘The 400 Blows’ becomes ‘The 400 Bros’ and so on, not unlike the so-called ‘sweded versions’ in Michel Gondry’s ‘Be Kind Rewind’.
These movies cement the relationship between Greg and Rachel. When the highschool beauty Madison makes Greg promise to make a film especially for Rachel things become more complicated. No more room for escapism, now he and Earl will have to make an original film and will have to face reality.
Due to the subject matter the film is being compared to ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, but ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ is great cinema, ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ isn’t.
Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has worked on the sets of directors like Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Sydney Lumet, Alejandro González Iñárritu, … and something definitly rubbed off.
Up to know he’s directed episodes of popular TV series like ‘Glee’ and ‘American Horror Story’ and a brilliantly directed debut ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ (2014), which I’ll be reviewing tomorrow.
If your a cinephile you’ll have a blast with this film. Besides the ‘sweded versions’ of films you’ll constantly notice inside jokes related to movie clips shown (Taxi Driver, Burden of Dreams, … ) and film soundtracks (Vertigo, Navajo Joe, …) used. The film heavily copies the Wes Anderson style of filmmaking (whose entire oeuvre is available on the Criterion label) but without losing an identity of it’s own. This movie has more whip pans than all of Wes Anderson’s films combined (and that’s saying something).
Towards the end the film becomes a bit more sentimental without going to the extremes of ‘The Fault of Our Stars’ though.