I was at Sundance this past week and you guys, you could not walk, like, three feet in the constantly falling snow without hearing someone mention Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
The film was the surprise hit of the festival. I say surprise because EVERYONE expects to like the film starring Michael Fassbender as a cowboy (Slow West) or Jason Segel doing a biopic turn as David Foster Wallace (The End of the Tour). But not everyone expected to fall in love with the high school movie starring a bunch of unknowns where the only name you’re likely to recognize in the credits are the adults: Connie Britton, Nick Offerman, and Molly Shannon (who are AWESOME adults, so some TV fangirling IS to be expected here).
But Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is a film where the director (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon) and the leads (Thomas Mann, R.J Cycler, and Olivia Cook as the “Me”, the “Earl” and the “Dying Girl”) are largely unknown. So how did this film become the hottest ticket at Sundance, the movie you couldn’t get into if you sold the box office one of your kidneys? How did it win both the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, (which is basically like if a film got TWO OSCARS for “Best Picture”)???
Because it’s just that good. In fact, if Sundance buzz is to be trusted, it’s going to one of the best (if not THE best) films you see this year.
“So what’s the best film I’m going to see this year about, anyway?” you ask. Let’s take a quick look at the Sundance-provided blurb:
Greg Gaines is an awkward, self-deprecating high school student determined to coast through his senior year as anonymously as possible. Avoiding social interactions like the plague, Greg spends most of his time remaking wacky versions of classic movies with his only friend, Earl. Greg’s well-meaning mother intervenes, forcing him to befriend Rachel, a classmate who’s been diagnosed with leukemia. Against his better judgment, Greg concedes. Both Greg and Rachel are surprised—even shocked—to find out that they actually like each other. Tentative at first, this unlikely duo becomes inseparable. But when Rachel gets sicker, Greg’s well-fortified world is changed forever.
“So… a movie adapted from a YA novel about a teen girl with cancer… I mean, isn’t that basically just ‘The Fault in Our Stars’?” you ask. And it completely makes sense that you would make that connection. But from everything I’ve heard (you guys, it was IMPOSSIBLE to get tickets for this ish, I did not even try) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, feels a lot more like Harold and Maude (which, if you haven’t seen, drop EVERYTHING and rent) than TFIOS.
The film reportedly got a standing ovation during a Sundance screening. Vulture called it “funny, touching and highly inventive.” Collider called it “incredibly impactful” and the praise went on and on. And will, inevitably, continue.
The movie not only swept in the awards, it also broke Sundance records with the $12 million offers the film received from multiple buyers to purchase the movie, which, FYI, is the most money that has ever been offered for a film at Sundance. The filmmakers actually went with a lesser bid from Fox Searchlight because money isn’t EVERYTHING and they wanted to make sure they found the right home for the film.
Fox Searchlight hasn’t set a release date yet (I mean, they JUST bought the film, like, a week ago) but once they do we’ll be counting the days and after that, we’ll be first in line to see what sounds like the best coming of age film in flipping forever.