Thursday, July 2, 2015

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl (bring tissues)

Got off work early and had to choose between seeing Inside Out and Me & Earl & the Dying Girl.  Couldn't get there in time for Inside Out, so Earl it was.  Grabbed a stack of tissues on the way out the door.  Needed them all.  (Are you really surprised, considering the title?)  Wish they had actually been tissues instead of napkins.

I liked this movie a lot.  Probably more like PG-16, but, as an adult, I found it hilarious and, obviously, an excellent tear-duct cleanser. 

Greg's actor may be in his mid-20s, but he does not stand on dignity when depicting the hilarious and painful interactions between a really awkward teenaged boy and his mother.  I was glad that there was really no one else in the theater because I was laughing pretty hard.

Earl stole the show.  He was pitch perfect every time.  Wow.  Almost every line and interaction with others made me snort.  His rapid-fire, spot-on psychoanalysis of Greg while stoned was a gem.

The Dying Girl had one of the harder roles.  Actresses tend to get chosen for being, you know, attractive, and this was not a high-budget film, so there was only so much they could do to make her look sick and ugly, and a lot of scenes involved her being too exhausted from the chemo to really even have many lines.  There were a lot of opportunities for her to simply sit there, looking tragic and helplessly attractive; I think they sidestepped many of those opportunities (partly because Greg's actor is a great face-actor, and his awkwardness and unease and heart-on-sleeve expressions as he wrestled through these emotional minefield kept things more real).

The history teacher was fun.  All the parents were pretty good, too.  Their roles were a bit over-the-top and could easily have been more caricature than anything, but there was enough real and understandable emotion / humanity / character in each of them that they weren't just goofy adults.

And the high school kids.  I swear I went to school with a dead-ringer for that twirpy drug dealer, and the goth/steampunk kid is a hoot, as well.  Makes one glad to not be in high school.

The nature of the narrative was interesting, too.  As the narrator continuously points out, this is not a love story, so all the things that one would expect to happen in this kind of story just don't.  And that leaves lots of room for real life to crowd in.  Friendship, decisions about higher education, struggles with friends and family: these are what the movie is made of because even when someone you love is dying, life does go on.  It's just so much harder for everyone.

Good movie.  Strong in story, character, world, and execution.  And tear-jerking.  Seriously.

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