Fox Searchlight has teamed up with Indian Paintbrush to distribute the teen dramedy Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – originally reported by THR – after the film received a standing ovation at its Sundance premiere. American Horror Story executive producer Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directs this charming story about the creative and isolating teenager, Greg (Thomas Mann, Project X), who is forced to befriend a classmate suffering from cancer (Olivia Cooke, TV’s Bates Motel).
Although on paper this premise sounds a lot similar to last year’s tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars, critics agree that the film overshadows its tears with its laughs. Through his characters Greg, Earl, and Rachel (the dying girl), first-time screenwriter Jesse Andrews showcases a creativity and intelligence within the teen consciousness not seen in many high school-centric movies. Greg and his (only) friend Earl (RJ Cyler, Second Chances) are filmmakers, making witty parody pieces with titles like “A Sockwork Orange” or “It’s a Punderful Life.” Greg’s film-geek, storyteller background sets the tone for the 500 Days of Summer-esque voice-overs throughout, which apparently often tell the audience that this will not be a “sappy love story.” And sappy it is not, as many point out that the cancer story line – although prevalent and taken seriously – doesn’t manipulate the audience for easy tears or take away from the honesty of the film’s young characters struggling through uncharted emotional territory.
The film also stars Nick Offerman (TV’s Parks and Recreation), Connie Britton (TV’s Friday Night Lights), and Molly Shannon (Superstar) in their guiding authority roles that critics laud as playing to each of their strengths, while not pulling focus from the younger cast.
The distribution deal with Fox Searchlight is reportedly one of Sundance’s biggest acquisitions to date, which may be an indication of the movie’s commercial potential. Fox Searchlight plans to release Me and Earl and the Dying Girl theatrically later this year.