First Hit: I was deeply touched by the story, quality of acting, and the full range of emotions I felt while watching.
Greg (Thomas Mann) has a poor view of himself. He’s a senior and has figured out a way to be both invisible and part of every group at school (we all remember the different groups in high school). His being associated with each group is at the level where he can say "hi" to each, but he’s not directly associated with that group to everyone else, so he has no up or down sides in these relationships. His association or non-association allows him to basically disappear from everyone.
His long term friend Earl (RJ Cyler) and he make films and each lunch together everyday in his sociology teacher's office, where they watch old films. The films he and Earl make are funny parodies of famous films (like Creature from the Blue Bathroom). When the camera pans across the titles of the film cartridges – the effect is hilarious and the audience gets to learn more about Greg and Earl with each title they have.
Greg’s parents are a hoot as well. His dad hangs around the house all day in odd outfits trying different kinds of foods. His mom inspects all his communication devices and leaves Greg feeling as if he has no privacy or control of his life - he feels smothered. Greg also is an amazing and funny monologist. Him mom tells him that one of his classmates has leukemia and wants him to visit her.
Although he complains he’s not friends with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) he reluctantly goes to visit her. Their friendship grows during her months of chemotherapy which drives Earl and Greg attempt to make a film for Rachel. One thing I wanted to see more of, was Rachel's ability to cut books – when you get to the end of the film, you’ll know what I mean – fascinating.
Mann was amazing. His ability to make his long monologues natural and revealing was divine. Cyler, although his role was smaller, was strikingly present in his scenes. Thoroughly enjoyed his character. Cooke was very strong and the revelations of her character as she progressed through chemo-therapy were great. Jesse Andrews wrote an amazing script (especially for Mann). Alfonso Gomez-Rejon captured the feeling of the characters with his inimitable direction.
Overall: This film may not get seen by a lot of people and it definitely is one of the best films in the first six months of this year.