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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Topic of cancer 

Rating: **1/2

DIRECTED BY Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
STARS Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke

Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Photo: Fox Searchlight)
  • Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Photo: Fox Searchlight)

"Me" is Greg (Thomas Mann), a high school student who prefers to march to his own beat and not become too close to anyone. Earl is, well, Earl (RJ Cyler), tagged a "co-worker" by Greg but really his only true friend. And the dying girl is Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who's been diagnosed with leukemia and spends much of her remaining time with Greg, who has struck up a hesitant friendship with her.

That's the general thrust of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, the sort of well-acted, well-written but self-consciously hip seriocomedy that can't help but win prizes at international film festivals. This one, in fact, struck gold twice at Sundance, winning both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award as the festival's best feature film. It's easy to see its appeal, with moviegoers able to identify with its teen protagonists and critics charmed by the fact that Greg and Earl make home movies that are riffs on classic pieces of cinema (e.g. Senior Citizen Cane, Anatomy of a Burger — but shame on them for ruining Nicolas Roeg's brilliant Don't Look Now with a spoiler spoof title).

The picture often overcomes its twee approach with good-natured humor, and all three young actors deliver bright performances. Clearly, the fault isn't in the stars but in a storyline that focuses on Greg at the expense of two equally interesting characters who often feel more like moons circling Greg's planet than fully defined people in their own right. This charming film could use more of Earl and the dying girl; instead, it's all about Me, Me, Me.

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