Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia.
ActorsStarring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Connie Britton, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, Hugh Jackman, Jon Bernthal, Katherine C. Hughes
Greg is a teen who takes pride in having spent his teens working hard to be and stay invisible, because ‘no-one likes me anyway’. His motto is that by not being anyone’s friend and more importantly: not being anyone’s enemy, he can survive through high school.
Greg does have one real friend: Earl. Even though he refuses to call him his friend – he has no friends after all – so he calls him his ‘co-worker’: they make movies together. These are adaptations of movie classics, including e.g. Scabface, Senior Citizen Kane, Pooping Tom, Gross Encounters of the Turd Kind, and Eyes Wide Butt. Indeed, a teen movie.
One day his mum informs him that a girl from school has leukemia, and she forces him to be a good boy and spend some time with her. Unsurprisingly they then develop some kind of relationship, maybe even friendship, over the course of the movie.
It is a very watchable movie; maybe a bit slow to start off but not annoyingly so; and the final act is well done from a cinematic perspective and delivers the to-be-expected tugs at the heartstrings. It is easy to see why people can really like this movie, and it even won an array of awards for Best Narrative, Best Drama, Best Film and Best Director, including two Sundance awards: the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award.
But really… upon reflection it is an incredibly shallow teen flick, trying to be deep and meaningful and quirky. It’s all in the title already – it starts with Me, that Me is Greg, and the entire narrative is about Me, Me, Me: poor Greg whom no-one likes. How can we show him coming of age and maturing a bit – well let’s throw in a Dying Girl! Her name is not important enough to make the title, and her role in the entire movie is only to help Greg – he is not there to help her, his mum made him do it…
The Dying Girl (alright then: Rachel) herself remains a character without any personality, depth, or any development or maturation during the entire movie. Greg apparently learns a few things from her cancer, while she just lies there dying in order to help him do so. It is and remains completely unclear why she likes him but that is irrelevant for the story as it is about Greg, not Rachel after all. Oh well, at least her leukemia served a purpose I guess, even though it remains rather vague what exactly he does learn from their relationship; the ending suggests at least he stops his self-pity pretense, but is he really any different…? We don’t get to that part of the story. It ends when the cancer ends: the dying girl has served her purpose in the story but we still don’t see any real personality development even in MeMeMe Greg. The story relies on the viewer filling in those gaps and suggesting he learned a lesson or two about himself.
So all in all: very watchable, quite enjoyable as fodder, sadly too shallow to be a good story. I doubt this movie will be remembered in a few years.
A 6/10 for watchability.