Me and Earl and the Dying Girl isn’t your regular teen trope checklist – not like its bro-ey, cheerleader-y counterparts Paper Towns and Project X. No, the film’s main character Greg is cool. Greg is like the kid in school who everyone gets along with but migrates from clique to clique, not really subscribing to any in particular. And besides the plot’s hook being cancer, it doesn’t surrender to weepie hospital scenes or full-on cancer-mance.
Greg (Thomas Mann) is forced to hang out with family friend Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who has just been diagnosed with cancer, and to cheer her up Greg and Earl (BFFs and self-described ‘coworkers’) take on the challenge of making a movie just for Rachel. “We learned pretty early on, we were the only ones that liked, for example, classics or foreign cinema,” Greg narrates. “We liked them so much we started making our own.”
What’s truly funny, though, is when Me nand Earl and the Dying Girl gets meta. Taking audiences on a tour through the famed halls of film history, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon made the two main characters – Earl and Greg – into movie buffs who recreate Hollywood classics with spoof titles. Eyes Wide Shut becomes Eyes Wide Butt and A Clockwork Orange becomes A Sockwork Orange, reworked with sock puppets.
“The references were tweaked so that the films that we referenced were heroes and the people that shaped me,” explains director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon to Martin Scorsese. “And also, because (Scorsese) turned me on to film history as a kid, this is a way to continue that tradition, by talking about movies that a younger generation could find, and weren’t necessarily the popular ones.”
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is out in cinemas Friday September 4