Time Out says
A teen weepie that earns every tear it wrings.
The Citizen Kane of teen cancer tearjerkers, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s funny and bruising Sundance sensation is like The Fault in Our Stars remade for Criterion Collection fetishists. Ostensibly spun from the same cloth as most YA dramas, the film latches on to a generic high-school kid named Greg (Thomas Mann) who spends all of his time making parody versions of classic films (i.e. Eyes Wide Butts, The 400 Bros) with his “coworker” Earl (excellent newcomer RJ Cyler). The videos are a great expression of Greg’s cinephilia, but what’s the use in making so many movies if none of them are truly your own? Conveniently for Greg, a local girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke) has just been diagnosed with leukemia, and there’s no greater catalyst for a pubescent male movie character to come into his own than that.
Despite an occasionally stilted pace and a few cartoonish touches (Molly Shannon plays Rachel’s mom with a broad sexual frustration that clashes with the rest of the material), Earl develops a rare emotional heft, particularly when Greg is pressured to make Rachel an original film. The project forces Greg to eclipse his influences and risk doing something that puts himself on the line, and Earl follows suit. Thanks to a restless visual dexterity and a brilliantly deployed soundtrack of Brian Eno tunes (Gomez-Rejon used to work for Scorsese, and it shows), this spirited but safely familiar pastiche of John Hughes and Wes Anderson is eventually compelled to become its own thing, embracing the most tired tropes of YA weepies so that it can kiss them goodbye.
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Cast and crew