In a post-Hunger Games film world, it seems like studios are churning out movies based on Young Adult novels left and right. To give you an example, in the last two years we’ve seen or will see the release of several YA adaptations including The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Fault in Our Stars, Vampire Academy, Divergent, The Maze Runner, If I Stay, Insurgent, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Paper Towns… The slate of films goes on like this well into 2016. And aside from a select few – the Hunger Games films specifically – I’ve ignored them all. They’re mostly just adaptations of books that rip off either “The Hunger Games” trilogy or the “Twilight” series and I’ve no interest in any of that.
But Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is different.
Adapted from Jesse Andrews’ novel of the same name, from a screenplay written by Andrews and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Me and Earl stands out from the rest of these YA films as a breath of fresh air that’s both incredibly funny and film-savvy enough to make any cinephile smile – except for those too-cool-for-the-room cinephiles who will probably balk at all the references, but nobody wants to go to the movies with those people anyway. With the release of now only his second feature – his first being the remake/reboot of The Town That Dreaded Sundown that was, while dreadful script-wise, at least very interesting visually – Gomez-Rejon cements himself as a director to watch.
Me and Earl avoids the usual YA adaptation traps by one, not being based off a book set in some post-apocalyptic hellscape like The Hunger Games or Divergent films and two, not filling itself with sappy, tearjerker moments like what you see in something like The Fault in Our Stars. Instead, it’s a very witty film featuring lots of laughs – like Greg (the “Me” from the title, played by Thomas Mann) doing a spot on Werner Herzog impression – and still enough heart to make you feel something as the credits roll. You come away feeling like you’ve watched something very self-aware, yet still smart and funny, and not like you’ve been emotionally manipulated for the better part of two hours by sad, terminally ill teenagers.
If you’re looking for a sharp film with lots of laughs and a film history Easter Egg hunt that lasts the entire run time, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl should be on your list for mandatory viewing here at the Burns this weekend.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl opens on June 19. Tickets are on sale now!