Apr 12, 2015

Trailing Off: "Me and Early and the Dying Girl" (2015)

Welcome to the weekly column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. Coming every Sunday (it's called Trailing Off for a reason), I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.

Trailer in Discussion

Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written By: Jesse Andrews (novel, screenplay)
Starring: Olivia Cooke, Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman

- Preamble -

As you likely have seen in the past in this column, I do have a strange affinity for films that have premiered at Sundance. I feel like it is a nice grounds for the break of the next big thing. Of every film that premiered, there were few that became as immediately striking as Me and Early and the Dying Girl. The title alone conjures up a curiosity about itself that makes you wonder what it really is about. What exactly is it about the film that will grab my attention? Who is this dying girl? Better yet, who is Earl? Why do we care about Earl? I already have a lot of questions that have been budding from the title alone and it its many ands. I feel like there's either an overtly twee thing going on or there's something deeper to it that I will hopefully grab onto.
As stated ahead before, I don't preview my picks because I feel that I need to provide genuine opinions in both the Preamble and the Dissection sections of this series. I don't really have any notions to give going into this trailer other than that I have heard great things. My expectations aren't those of a specific actor, though it does star Nick Offerman who is always promising, but of the hope of a good and pure indie comedy, or maybe drama (I'm not sure), that will keep me interested. I wonder if it will be as good as Dear White People or something more dour. I kind of want to know. Speaking as I don't watch a lot of trailers anymore, it makes my exposure to these especially interesting.

- Dissection -

It is a comparison that I am sure will be made quite a bit. This does feel like an even smaller version of The Fault in Our Stars. That's not a bad thing, especially as I found it to be an effective take on the Young Adult genre of love stories. In fact, I have a soft spot in general for cancer dramas as of late due to personal reasons. With all of this said, the trailer does a solid job of summarizing everything that we need to know about the characters. Yes, there is a girl dying of cancer and yes there is romance. That is about as far as the comparisons go. From here, it is almost better to compare it to Be Kind Rewind.
It seems like an odd choice until you consider the conceit of the film. The "Me" of the title is a movie maker who intentionally makes great films bad. It is what he does with "Earl." It is already off to a compelling start. Still, throw in random imagery that suggests that "Me" sees things everywhere he goes and you get the general idea of the film. Tonally, it is hard for it to escape the twee vibes of most indie comedies. However, I am already compelled by these characters who may seem a little rote at times, but they also feel like they may have heart. There's a few comedic jabs that work a lot better than I would expect as well.
Then of course, there is "The Dying Girl." She is the catalyst for a lot of the film's motivations. Because of her death, "Me" is forced to make a film after being prompted by "Earl." This is a generally sincere premise that is actually very touching in ways that I don't feel that most genre films are. He must actually put in serious effort to express himself artistically. While we only get glimpses into it, I feel like there's a lot of far more interesting concepts that will be put on display as the film unfolds.
I only have a general idea of what the relationships will be like. However, it does feel like the perfect blend of twee and ingenuity in ways that I wasn't expecting. I do worry that it is a little too much hype and not enough substance. However, it still makes me intrigued to see what will happen next, which is the whole point of any trailer. I am sold on this because despite it getting lazy comparisons to The Fault in Our Stars, it actually feels like an original take on the genre that we haven't seen in a long, long time.

- One Sentence Sell -

A Sundance romantic cancer comedy that feels like something fresh by mixing coming of age tropes with classic cinematic references.

- Trash or Trove -

While I don't know if the film may be as good as the trailer, I judge these solely on their ability to persuade me to see it. I think that this is a film that hopefully wasn't given away entirely in the trailer. It feels like something special and hopefully the reviews that I have read will not be a little disingenuous when the film finally comes out.

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