Story

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about high school student Greg (Thomas Mann) and his friend Earl (R.J. Cyler) and their friendship with a girl called Rachel (Olivia Cooke). Rachel has been diagnosed with leukaemia, and Greg’s mother asks Greg to support Rachel during her illness. At first Greg hesitates to get close to anyone other than Earl, but he eventually becomes fond of Rachel. Greg and Earl have made a lot of short movies together, and they show Rachel their collection to cheer her up. Rachel suggests that Greg produce a movie about her chemotherapy for his college applications.

After Rachel discovers that her treatment isn’t working, she decides to stop chemotherapy. This really upsets Greg. Their friendship falls apart, and Rachel ends up in a hospice as her condition gets worse. Greg starts to do badly at school and fails to get into his chosen college. Greg decides to visit Rachel and show her the completed movie of her story. 

Themes

Relationships and friendship; terminal illness and death; adolescence and growing up

Violence

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has some violence. For example:

  • Earl punches Greg during an argument.
  • Greg has an aggressive argument with Rachel after she stops chemotherapy.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the scene in which Rachel dies with Greg by her side. This is an emotional scene.

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to disturbed by the scene in which Rachel dies.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are also likely to disturbed by the scene in which Rachel dies.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by the scene in which Rachel dies. 

Sexual references

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has some sexual references. For example:

  • There are sexual innuendoes, and characters talk about body parts in sexual ways.
  • Characters talk about masturbation. 
  • Some scenes present online porn material, but not in a graphic way.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl shows some use of substances. For example:

  • Underage characters talk about drinking and ‘getting high accidentally’ when eating cookies that have marijuana in them. 
  • A parent gives alcohol to two teenage characters. 
  • Rachel’s mother frequently drinks wine.

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

There is some product placement in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, including references to YouTube, Apple and Toyota.

Coarse language

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl includes some coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a sad but heart-warming story about unlikely friendship, love and loss. 
The relationship between Greg and Rachel shows the power of friendship and how it can help to overcome obstacles. Through this friendship, the movie highlights the importance of not judging people before you really get to know them. It also shows that while illness can reduce a person physically, it doesn’t destroy their mind and connection with others. 

We don’t recommend this movie for children under 14 years because of its themes of terminal illness and the distressing scene in which Rachel dies. We also recommend parental guidance for children 14-15 years. You might be concerned about the movie’s coarse language and sexual references. 

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • not making assumptions about people, and letting people be themselves 
  • having supportive friends in your life
  • valuing the time you get with the people you love, even when you disagree with them. 

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues and experiences like:

  • terminal illness and chemotherapy
  • the stress of applying for university and the transition from high school to college.