Initial Thought: Honestly I didn't know much going into this one. All I knew is that it was about a girl with cancer and a guy who becomes a friend reluctantly. I had an idea that this was kind of like Be Kind Rewind meets The Fault in Our Stars after watching the trailer for it. I was on my way to a promo for The Water Diviner, but two of my coworkers suggested me to check this out instead so I did. I mean I will be able to see my previous choice in a few days when we release it at my theater anyways. I also missed this at the film festival we had last week and I heard a lot of people enjoyed it. So without further ado here are my thoughts on this film.
Characters/Acting: Good lord the acting here is just phenomenal. Some of our characters here are truly complicated while even the simplistic of characters keep you interested in them. I love how nonchalant Earl is through most of the movie with his dialogue. Yet no matter how straight-face he seems to be he is actually a much deeper character in my opinion. Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke have really great chemistry together in my opinion. I loved the way they interacted with each other. I was truly impressed by them here. I have never been much of a fan of Molly Shannon, but she is strangely fun here. I actually enjoyed her character much more than Connie Britton's portrayal. I even really liked the supporting cast who had small yet hilarious roles in the overall storytelling. Jon Bernthal in particular has one of the most interesting roles here as a fun role model teacher yet he is covered in very noticeable tattoos that no one seems to remark on. Scott Mayhew, Derrick (Earl's brother), and Ill Phil reminded of some people I knew in high school. Bobb'e J. Thompson has really grown up after playing rude little kids in past adult comedies. It's nice to see him grown up and still acting some. I do hope his career expands though past limited roles and direct to DVD films because he does have good comedic capabilities.
Story: The story is undeniably well crafted and delivered. It's one of those very humorous takes on a truly serious subject. I enjoy when someone can make a story like this and be able to make it lighthearted. I think it's a good idea to make films like this where we learn that everyone doesn't want to be treated different. We all want to be treated like we are normal. If someone has cancer they don't want others to treat them like they are amazing when they know you never thought that of them before. I'm sure that everyone would much rather be treated the way you treat others. This in my opinion is a perfect representation of being treated in the correct way. I loved the filmmaking aspect of this too. The videos they make are just so awful it is absolutely hilarious. It was also fun to try to think about which movie some of the ideas came from. Everything pulls together and the ending is just so well crafted.
Directing/Writing: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has really stepped his directing game up since his previous film The Town That Shredded Sundown. It's probably due to the fact that he is much more at home dealing with teen comedy/dramas like Glee episodes or Red Band Society. Anyways what he did here was absolutely remarkable and touching. He made me feel a roller coaster of emotions throughout this. I hadn't known this was based off a book, but it does make since as most teen movies these days are. I never even heard of the guy, but he should definitely write a lot more if he makes stories like this.
Final Thought: This was an incredible work of art. It had me in a roller coaster of emotions. In one moment I would be laughing and in others I would be on the brink of tears. It is beautifully acted. The characters are likeable and familiar. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon seemed to really care about the material he was working with and it showed here quite effortlessly. I highly recommend checking this out as soon as possible.