I would really, really like to meet the idiots who gave this movie such rave reviews and punch them in the face. Seriously, why do I fall into this IMDb trap every single time? If only I’d bothered to read the negative reviews before sitting down to watch this crapfest, I wouldn’t have wasted 105 minutes of my life.
The movie premise is simple and tries (but fails) to be heart-warming: a highschool kid is forced by his mother to befriend a classmate who was just diagnosed with cancer, and eventually achieves self-growth through the titular dying girl. The other titular character, Earl, could have been edited out and no one would have blinked twice. He only exists as a plot device to push the non-existent plot forward, and when he does show up, he’s nothing more than a cliche, and a heavy-handed one at that.
The film manages to tackle a sensitive subject with such superficial pretentiousness that we can’t even feel sympathy for Rachel, the cancer patient. That’s quite a feat for a so-called ‘tearjerker’, that doesn’t even come close to The Fault In Our Stars, from which it seems to draw its inspiration.
Everything about Me, Earl and The Dying Girl is predictable and self-referential. The jokes fall flat, and not even the amazing Nick Offerman is enough to save it. The quirky hippie parents are caricatures; the laid back, tattooed teacher serves no real purpose, the dialogue, always in the kind of wannabe-witty style that made movies like Juno a big hit, lacks any real sense of authenticity; worst of all, the two protagonists never seem to connect, nor do they make any actual effort to.
Instead of turning into a tragic figure as she fights her losing battle with cancer, Rachel simply becomes unlikeable. Greg doesn’t have that far to go: he’s self-absorbed and antipathetic right from the start, with his fake social awkwardness and his inability to even call Earl a friend. The ending isn’t sad, because it’s too predictable and never once feels earned.
I was bored throughout the first half of this film, and only kept watching because I was hoping it would get better. It didn’t. The movie tries too hard to convince us of its quirky nature, especially with its pretentious focus on classic films (again with this trope! Do real teenagers actually EVER watch old movies?) and their silly parody-style home movies that soon become the focal point in Greg and Rachel’s relationship.
I struggle to find one good thing to say about the entire movie, and I can’t for the life of me explain the high praise it received at Sundance, unless the viewers were emotionally stunted teens, impressed by the artsy-fartsy cinematography. I’ll take violent b-movies over this crap any day – at least they don’t pretend to be something they’re not.