Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Jonathan Levine’s 50/50 (2011) broke new ground by turning a preeminent source of movie drama—young people battling cancer—into the stuff of wiseacre comedy. This similar effort, adapted by Jesse Andrews from his own novel, benefits from the earlier movie’s audacity without equaling it, though its sardonic story of a high school misfit (Thomas Mann) ordered by his mother to befriend a leukemia-stricken classmate (Olivia Cooke) demonstrates a sharp eye for the teenage politics of pity. I didn’t believe for a moment the subplot in which the hero and his poker-faced pal (RJ Cyler) shoot a series of home videos parodying famous art-house movies (ask someone that age to name a classic film and he’ll probably tell you The Breakfast Club). But the cockeyed tone effectively inoculates the film against the bathos one might reasonably expect. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed; with Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon.