Netflix A-Z: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (2015)

Next up on the Netflix A-Z is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl! I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about this one, especially when it was released about the same time as The Fault in Our Stars and a lot of people had mentioned that this one is better. Seeing as I’m not a huge fan of The Fault in Our Stars, as horrible as that sounds, this one should be great! Or at least I hope it will. I personally like the cast so I’m pretty excited to see this!

Let’s check it out!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

me and earl and the dying girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine Hughes

High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. – IMDB

 Some of the best and memorable moments happen when we step out of our comfort zone. In fact, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl shows exactly the bittersweet feeling of having something memorable happen in your life and learning from each other through friendship. There’s a genuine feeling here. I like movies a lot that have the main character narrate the story in a certain way. There is monologues in the background and its something like peeking into someone’s snippet of their journal entry that they wanted to share with you. Aside from that, the characters are all charming in their odd indie way. Whether its our main trio with Thomas Mann, Olivia Wilde and RJ Cyler or Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as Greg’s parents or Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom. They all added a little something to the story.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

One of the most charming parts of the story is the interaction and friendships shown here. The primary one being that of Greg (Thomas Mann) and Rachel (Olivia Wilde). Their friendship was “doomed” (the words of Greg) to begin with. Befriending a girl with cancer was emotional and crazy however, you can see that because they found joy and comfort in each other that their friendship, even at times with more silence than words grew. Actually, the timeline of the story didn’t seem like a long one but it felt like their friendship had a lot of depth and understanding and that is an irreplaceable connection that everyone can only relate to rarely and that is what makes this friendship so special. Plus, it made them both see a different side of school and themselves.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

One of the quiet friendships but rather creative ones are between Greg and Earl who has been friends forever or what Greg would prefer to call, colleagues, as they work together to make films with titles that put a twist to their original and they were brought together by foreign films that Greg’s father had shown them when they were kids, inspiring them to want to make movies. That creates the basis of them being asked to make a movie for Rachel while she is in treatment and in a way, strains their friendship as they struggle to make an actual good movie together. Their friendship leads into other colorful characters like Greg’s dad, a sociologist if I remember correctly, who adds a touch of fun with his foods from around the world, played by Nick Offerman. The other would be the odd student and teacher with Greg, Earl and Mr. McCarthy where they hide out in his office.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Its hard to pinpoint how to show what is so good about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. What makes a movie great sometimes is the subtlety of how they grow a friendship or relationship and build the story. This is just a snippet in the entire life of Greg and yet it carries a life changing force. While he doesn’t learn everything all the time and there are moments when there is insensitivity at times, the idea here is that there is an authenticity and believable factor here about a guy who meets a girl and grows their friendship. The dialogue is witty and charming and quirky. Despite its issues about Rachel and her suffering from cancer, there is a odd lightheartedness to the whole thing that never sits in the sad territory for too long and Greg learns a thing or two through this segment of his life that impacted his outlook.

Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a subtle development and a genuine story at that making it believable and definitely one of those must-see coming of age stories. Its quirky and odd but just like the movie, my fondness for the movies grows more and more as I think back to it.

Netflix A-Z: The Kings of Summer (2013)

Onto the K selection! Now, we’re still in the indie film category but this time we’re heading into one of my favorite genre (or is it a subgenre?).  Its coming of age stories! I really like these stories when its done right.  Maybe it has to do with taking a class that focused on that also.  Regardless, I’ve read various reviews when this was really great.  I don’t know why I’ve been pushing it off but here we are..The Kings of Summer! Summer is kind of almost over but hey, why not, right?

Let’s check this out!

The Kings of Summer (2013)

The Kings of Summer

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias, Nick Offerman, Erin Moriarty, Megan Mullally, Marc Evan Jackson, Alison Brie

 Joe (Nick Robinson) is a teenage boy living with his only his dad especially after his sister moved out.  His father hounds him all the time about everything.  One day as he snuck out for a party, an incident happens that causes the group to disperse quickly and while lost in the forest, he discovers a space in the middle of nowhere.  Its at that moment, he thinks up a plan to build a house in the wild with his best friend, Patrick (Gabriel Basso) and a weird kid that he got lost with the other night called Biaggio (Moises Arias).  Together, they plot their master plan to move out from their homes and live independently on their own by their own rules embracing their freedom and living like men.

The Kings of Summer

The Kings of Summer is a captivatingly quirky and charming indie film.   Its about growing up and being men.  These boys plan together as they want to be free from their parents’ control.  Our main characters are boys but as a lady who was once a girl, I can still see how this all connects so well together.  The Kings of Summer is about embracing what being a man is, what freedom is and just enjoying the simple things like friendship and family.  The meaning and the motives behind The Kings of Summer and just what it represents is something that is really fun, heartwarming and takes you back to when you were young and desiring these things and finding who we were (at least thats how I felt).  I never moved out on my own or built a house or had enough motivation to learn all these things to escape my home but as a kid, we all want to be grown up, to make our own life decisions, do what we want and that is exactly what Joe, Patrick and Biaggio did.

The Kings of Summer

Before I dive in and talk about the performances, lets just get this out of the way.  The scenery and cinematography was absolutely awesome! The wilderness and the landscape from the forest to the sunlight and how it shines, the fields and lakes and even just how the camera pans to emphasize certain things going on.  Its all done really nicely.  Also, the soundtrack was great.  It started with this song called Cowboy Song and it kind of sets the tone for the movie.  And the rest of the soundtrack just fit well with whatever was going on.

The Kings of Summer

Look at the performances, our main leads are pretty much fresh blood.  Joe, played by Nick Robinson, who I’ve only seen in the recent Jurassic World was pretty great at being Joe.  He leads the group and is the person who wants out.  At the same time, he wants to break free from his father and the control but also wants to just feel loved for and cared about.  He wants to be independent and free.  Its under his influence that enforces his best friend Patrick, played by Gabriel Basso to break free from his parents because they are overprotective and a little overbearing.  And for him, doing this means to just be able to have his own thoughts and his own way.  While Biaggio, played by Moises Arias, is kind of the wild card here.  He appeared out of nowhere, became a part of this friendship for no reason but at the same time, as weird and awkward as his character was, he was the symbol of what friendship meant.  What really worked here for this story was the chemistry that these boys had with each other which made their friendship believable and when things happened, you’d feel what they were feeling whether you connected with Joe, Patrick or even Biaggio because each had a different personality that helped keep them in balance.

The Kings of Summer

In supporting roles, we have some solid performances as well.  First of all, its Nick Offerman playing Joe’s dad.  He delivers some fantastic sarcastic humor and while we may or may not sympathize with his character, we do start to understand it more.  On the other side, there isn’t an awkward, weird moment that Megan Mullally, playing Patrick’s mom, isn’t in.  Her presence was to be the overprotective and dork, weird mom that made everything really out of place.

Overall, The Kings of Summer is an energetic and fun coming of age movie that pulls out a little bit of nostalgia, a good many laughs with the script and dialogue and also some little emotional moments.  It has beautiful scenery, a great message about independent, youth, freedom, friendship and family, and a fitting soundtrack that meshes with what goes on with the characters.  The performances by the three leads are charming and endearing.  There might have been some flaws here and there but it was never big enough for me to think about.  I really like The Kings of Summer.  There’s something that just pulls you in as you connect more with the characters as they grow from this daring experience to step out on their own.

Have you seen The Kings of Summer? What is your favorite coming of age movie?

L selection is right around the corner! Any guesses?