The logline for “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” – Sundance indie comedy meets cancer drama meets film about Criterion Collection-loving teenagers – makes it sound dire. But “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl,” about a film buff teenager who befriends a girl with leukemia, is one of the biggest hits at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Critics have praised the film’s warmth, it’s playfulness, its performances, and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s formal skill. A few detractors have said that the film plays so clearly to the young film buff crowd that it sometimes comes off as pandering, but the film has won over so many people who were initially skeptical of it that it can’t be written off just yet.
Peter Debruge, Variety
Anyone who buys a ticket to a film called “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” goes in fully expecting to cry. It’s sort of a given. The surprise, then, is the laughter: the near-constant stream of wise, insightful jokes that make it so easy to cozy up to characters dealing with a tough emotional situation. The story of a high-school senior forced to befriend a classmate who has just been diagnosed with leukemia, and the sincere, nonsexual connection that forms as a result (sorry, “The Fault in Our Stars,” but there’s no nookie here), this rousing adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ novel is destined not only to connect with young audiences in a big way, but also to endure as a touchstone for its generation.
David Ehrlich, Time Out New York
Based on Jesse Andrews’s novel of the same name and directed with a restless visual dexterity that always serves its characters (Gomez-Rejon used to work for Scorsese, and it shows), “Dying Girl” refuses to accept the common wisdom that high school films should be graded on a curve. The relationship between Greg and Rachel develops a rare heft, and feels as palpably special to us as it must have to them. Read more.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
What also bothered me was that, like the characters in the very similar “The Fault in Our Stars,” these kids just don’t feel like real kids. Teenagers can be creative and wise beyond their years and all that, sure. But the way the teens in “Me & Earl” create and relate is just such an adult’s fantasy of how interesting teenagers would behave that the movie pretty immediately loses all relatable texture. Of course a movie can exist in its own world and be plenty powerful, but I think we’re supposed to glean something very real from “Me & Earl.” But with all these precocious quirks crowding every frame, it’s really hard to get to the real core of these people. Read more.
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
Embracing and subverting clichés, while playing with the notions of an unreliable narrator in Greg, Jesse Andrew’s script is simply terrific, and Gomez-Rejon mostly directs the hell out of every scene. And yet, though it might just be the most purely enjoyable and movie movie of the festival, the film is not without its flaws. 105 minutes is just a bit too long, and these kinds of sweet, comedic indies do themselves better favor by hovering around 95 minutes. Like most Sundance films this year, “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl” seems to have three different endings, but fortunately the movie is so heartswirlingly winning it doesn’t hurt as much as it might. Read more.
Mike Ryan, Uproxx
Here’s the thing: I realize the description of this movie makes it sound really awful. “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is not a sentimental movie. Greg and Rachel do not fall in love. Greg, who narrates the story, repeatedly tells the audience that Rachel will not die, but I found myself not trusting Greg’s narration, so, for me, Rachel’s fate was still a lingering question. Read more.
Alison Willmore, BuzzFeed
If “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl” sounds like a profoundly quirky Sundance film crossed with a certain teen cancer one, it is. But it’s also improbably wonderful. Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (a regular at “American Horror Story”) injects large doses of visual verve to show Greg’s subjective point of view, tracking through the cafeteria to show off the sociological chaos he dreads, and choreographing the very funny scene in which Greg’s mom nags him into visiting Rachel in one long take that travels through the house. Read more.
The ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL Kool-Aid: I haz drunk. Lovely, hilarious, terrific enrichment of already-good source material.
— Scott Renshaw (@scottrenshaw) January 27, 2015
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL (Gomez-Rejon): More teen weepies should be directed with such spunk. Also, that climax. #Sundance2015
— AADowd (@AADowd) January 26, 2015
Between ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL and DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL coming of age films are killing it at #Sundance15
— Michael Cusumano (@SeriousFilm) January 26, 2015
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: Echoes of Rushmore and FIOS filtered through a unique vision. Remarkably moving and powerful. A likely hit.
— Brian Tallerico (@Brian_Tallerico) January 26, 2015
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Gomez-Rejon): W/O. “Destined…to endure as a touchstone for its generation.”—Variety. Get off my lawn.
— Mike D’Angelo (@gemko) January 26, 2015
Credits still rolling and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is getting a standing ovation in the dark. Crying too hard to type. #sundance
— Jada Yuan (@jadabird) January 25, 2015