Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Movie Poster Image
Deeply moving, irreverent film about friends, cancer, life.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 104 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 14 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Illness can ravage the body but not the soul, and friendship can conquer it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Greg seems sarcastic and detached, but he's actually kind and soulful and curious about other people. His friend Earl, who also seems cynical and removed, is really an empathetic person who's very loyal to his friend. Parents are quirky in a movie-stereotypical way, but one in particular feels more realistic and is willing to share her wisdom and advice.

Violence

A young man punches his friend; another threatens him in a verbal altercation. But cancer is the movie's main foe.

Sex

Innuendo. Frank, open references to/jokes about masturbation; lots of references to a girl's "t-tties."

Language

Fairly frequent swearing includes "s--t," "goddamn," "a--hole," "hell," "bulls--t," "t-tties," and (much less frequently) "f--k."

Consumerism

Labels/products seen include Apple, YouTube, and Toyota.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens are shown smoking and talking about being high "accidentally." One character always seems to have a wine glass in hand. Discussion about cookies spiked with weed. A mom gives two teens some alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an irreverent, heartfelt, thoughtful, and very funny dramedy based on the same-named book by Jesse Andrews. You know from the title that a teen girl is dying (cancer), so it's no spoiler to say that although the movie is quite humorous and sarcastic, it also explores intense subject matter, including post-high school boredom/lack of direction, fear of intimacy, and mortality. Expect some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k"), cigarette and pot smoking by teens, and drinking -- but ultimately the take-away is that illness can ravage the body but not the soul, and friendship can conquer it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byDan G. June 17, 2015

Enjoyable for adults, but quite a bit of objectionable material for children

The movie is entertaining and enjoyable for adults. The most mature of teens should be resistant to the multiple bad behavioral examples in the movie. These i... Continue reading
Parent of a 5, 12, and 16 year old Written byChris T. January 1, 2018

Teaches teens lessons about friendship and cancer.

Me and Earl and the Dying girl is about a teen girl who gets cancer and the main characters mum asks him to spend time with her and they develop a heart-warming... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byJflores14 June 18, 2015

Beautiful story is heartbreaking and thought provoking

This film is a bit odd and out there but I loved it! Visually stunning and hilarious. CONTENT: VIOLENCE- one fight; non graphic SEX- a breif scantily clad w... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old June 19, 2015

Amazing, fantastic, heart breaking drama is funny but extremely sad and is racy with tons of strong language.

This movie fallows Greg a kid in high school who has to visit his friend Rachel because she has cancer. Greg's friend Earl is his co worker because they ha... Continue reading

What's the story?

High school student Greg (Thomas Mann) and his friend Earl (RJ Cyler) like to make parodies of famous movies (think Monorash instead of Rashomon) and have more than 40 of them under their belts. Despite knowing Earl forever, Greg fancies himself a lone wolf who navigates the thicket of high school social life by getting along with everyone and never letting anyone really get to know him. No attachment, no disappointment -- or so he thinks. Meanwhile, the pressure of deciding about college (and the rest of his life) calls. When his mother (Connie Britton) discovers that Greg's classmate, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), has been diagnosed with leukemia, she insists that Greg spend time with her to help her through her ordeal. But this breaks Greg's golden rule not to get involved with anyone.

Is it any good?

The beauty of ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL -- and it truly is a beautiful film, both visually and emotionally -- is that it doesn't pander to anyone. Not to high schoolers, not to parents (though their depiction does border a bit on caricature), and not to those suffering from cancer (who are rendered here in all their complexity). It doesn't presuppose that teens are too predictable and stereotypical to appreciate the complicated; it doesn't assume that comedy shouldn't be tinged with deep sadness, and vice versa. It feels authentic. Greg feels authentic; as depicted by Mann, he is, in many ways, both like all teenagers and simultaneously unlike any we've met before. Ditto Earl and, to a lesser extent, Rachel. In fact, the entire cast is, as kids these days are apt to say, "perf," including Nick Offerman in the role of Greg's spacey sociology professor dad.

Which is all to say that Earl is fantastic. No wonder it was a hit and won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Is it totally quibble-free? No; the first half moves a little too deliberately and a little self-consciously, but the payoff of the second half -- particularly the last third -- is so great that any issues of twee-ness (we don't really need those title cards) can be forgiven. What we have here is an honest attempt to tell an honest story of friendship, loss, and survival in a teen movie. How many films in this genre can say they've done that?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' friendships. What brings them together? What's the true measure of a real friendship? Can you think of other movies that portray powerful friend relationships?

  • How does the movie portray drinking, smoking, and drug use? Are they glamorized? Are there realistic consequences?

  • Is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl's depiction of high school social life realistic? How is it similar to, or different from, other movies that have covered the same ground?

  • If you've read the book it's based on, is this is a successful adaptation? What changes did the filmmakers make, and you do you understand why they made them? What parts of the movie captured the book best, and what parts of the book did you miss not seeing in the movie?

Movie details

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