Me and Earl and the Dying Girl arrives at the perfect time. When it opens in theaters on June 12, fatigued summer movie audiences who’ve been numbed by summer CGI in blockbusters like Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max and San Andreas might be ready for something different. Not that Me and Earl is some art-house concoction that requires a refined palette: it was one of the most crowd-pleasing films to come out of the Sundance Film Festival in several years and it’s targeted at a wide audience.
Based on Jesse Andrews novel, the film tells the story of Greg (Thomas Mann), a slightly awkward high-school student whose savvy social survival skills are predicated on being as distant as possible from his peers without offending anyone. He even refers to his best friend, Earl (RJ Cyler), as a co-worker instead of a friend—never mind that they’ve never technically worked together and spend hours making terrible short films inspired by dumbed-down versions of classic titles (like Eyes Wide Butt and Rosemary Baby Carrots).
But when his meddling parents pressure him to be a good neighbor to Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a classmate diagnosed with leukemia, the walls that he’s carefully constructed in his life and in his adolescent mind show some cracks. As Nick Offerman, who plays Greg’s father in the film, says in an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette, “The way that the two young men address Rachel’s sickness is wonderfully human and clumsy.”
As the narrator, Greg insists that “this isn’t a touching romantic story,” but he might have spoken too soon. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance, and it could become a mini Fault in Our Stars—box-office speaking—when it opens in two weeks. Watch the cast and crew explain the film’s plot in the exclusive clip, above.