Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Parent Review
Cancer is a serious subject for most teens. For many of these adolescents, it's heavy slogging. And sometimes it feels that way for the audience as well. Still, this story has some positive messages.
Admittedly high school can be a difficult experience for many kids. Greg Gains (Thomas Mann) is no different. But he has taken the approach of avoiding strong affiliations with any particular group while being an unofficial member of all. Laying low means he doesn’t have any real friends, but he doesn’t have any real enemies either.
That begins to change when his mother (Connie Britton) informs him that a classmate has cancer. Greg doesn’t know Rachel (Olivia Cooke) well, but that doesn’t stop his mother from forcing him to go visit her. Rachel’s mom (Molly Shannon), armed with a glass of alcohol, welcomes Greg with a smothering of kisses on his cheek and a warm embrace—too warm for Greg’s comfort. But Rachel is much cooler. She doesn’t want a pity visit. However, she finally invites him into her room after he pleads for mercy.
Outside of school, Greg and his coworker Earl (RJ Cyler) make parodies of classic films. As kids, Greg and Earl were introduced to old movies by Greg’s dad (Nick Offerman), a tenured university professor who spends most of his time whipping up weird food concoctions while wearing pajamas and a housecoat. Since then the boys have made their own versions of dozens of them. Finally they agree to let Rachel watch some of their creations as a sort of humor therapy.
Thus begins Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, a quirky flick about movie making, friendship and cancer.
Cancer is a serious subject for most teens. And during the slow unfolding of this story, Greg, Earl and other students are compelled to explore their feelings about the disease. Rachel also has to come to grips with her diagnosis as she fights her way through chemotherapy. For many of these adolescents, it is heavy slogging. And sometimes it feels that way for the audience as well.
The film contains frequent references to sexual activity and anatomy, along with depictions of smoking and alcohol use. (Rachel’s mother appears to be nursing her way through her daughter’s illness with the help of a good stiff drink.) Greg and Earl also mistakenly consume marijuana and suffer the hallucinogenic side effects of the drug. As well, the script is peppered with profanities and at least a couple uses of a strong sexual expletive and crude hand gesture.
Unfortunately that content will dissuade many family viewers from seeing this movie—and rightly so. However, this story does have some positive messages. Like it or not, Greg’s hands-off approach to life doesn’t work. It isn’t until he commits himself to becoming a friend that he really engages with the world. And while it isn’t always easy to stick by Rachel’s side during her difficult ordeal, Greg learns to value his friendships with Earl and the dying girl.Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. Starring Connie Britton, Nick Offerman, Jon Bernthal . Running time: 104 minutes. Theatrical release June 26, 2015. Updated May 13, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl here.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Parents Guide
Note: Me & Earl & the Dying Girl opens in limited theaters on June 12, 2015
Talk about the movie with your family…
What impact does Rachel’s cancer diagnosis have on her mother? In addition to the physical challenges of treatment, what emotional challenges does Rachel experience? How do families deal with stress in this story? What coping mechanisms might your family use during difficult times?
Like many other teen films, this one features dysfunctional or quirky characters. Why are these “types” becoming more popular in movies? Are they easier to relate to? Some of them are even portrayed as the heroes of the story. How do they approach this role? How successful do you think they are in playing this part?
Although Greg is initially forced by his mother to visit Rachel, he eventually continues to come because of their growing friendship. How important is it to offer support to a cancer patient and his or her family? What are the best ways to offer help? The American Cancer Society lists numerous ways a person assist and champion a friend with cancer.
Why is Greg so intent on being unseen in high school? How does Rachel’s illness force him to take a stand?