Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a quirky and unconventional tale of a boy named Greg, his “co-worker” Earl and how they came to befriend a girl named Rachel who recently got diagnosed with leukaemia. This offbeat comedy has a lot of life lessons to take away from it. And here are six of them:
1. Being friends with everyone means being friends with no-one
Greg discovered the secret to surviving high school. Don’t rub anyone the wrong way, maintain friendships with everyone and don’t belong to any clique. That means you’ll have no enemies.
But what Greg doesn’t realise is that this decision means only ever being acquaintances and never having any actual friends. The closest thing Greg has to an actual friend is Earl, whom he calls his “co-worker”. But by befriending Rachel he sacrifices his life of blissful invisibility, makes some enemies and forms stronger friendships – for his own good.
2. Hot girls can make you do anything… and they know it
This is hardly something ground-breaking, but it’s something that stuck with me. Attractive people know the effect they have on others, particularly those who are smitten with them. On a subconscious level they do or say just enough to convince you to do anything they want.
Madison is a prime example of this: the beautiful girl who is thoughtful and kind, convinces Greg to make a movie for Rachel in an effort to make her feel better. Now, that hardly makes Madison the villain, but by her touching Greg’s arm and subtly flirting with him, she knows that he will do it. She uses Greg’s obvious attraction to her to get her way.
At the end she offers to go to the prom with him, as if she’s doing him some massive favour. Hot girls, even the most seemingly sincere ones, know exactly what they’re doing.
3. Laughter might not be the cure but it helps ease the pain
Greg’s jokes aren’t always solid. But he has a knack for making Rachel laugh even when she doesn’t want to. His weirdness and inability to shut up results in countless jokes about masturbating on pillows and faking seizures.
With Rachel being diagnosed with leukemia, having treatment and losing her hair, she finds solace in Greg’s weird humour and the parody films that he makes with Earl.
4. The best of friendships don’t always start out that way
Greg makes it clear that the only reason he called her and went over to hang out with her is because his mother nagged him into doing so. Rachel also knows that he’s there because she has cancer and feels sorry for her.
Not the best foundation to begin a friendship. But that is exactly what happens. Their doomed friendship soon becomes the most important part of Greg’s life, even causing him to neglect his school work. His primary focus is to make movies with Earl and be friends with Rachel.
Don’t care about spoilers? As you were.
5. Goodbyes are abrupt and unexpected
Now, as you would have guessed, Rachel is the dying girl that the title of the film refers to. And even though Greg reassures us throughout the film that she lives, she doesn’t… I know.
On the night of the prom, Greg dresses up in a tuxedo, rents a limo and makes his way to the hospital, where he meets his date for the night: Rachel, lying in her hospital bed, looking extremely weak.
Greg takes out a mini projector and shows her the film he made for her. They watch it together but then she starts becomes unresponsive and slips into a coma, dying 10 hours later. Greg doesn’t have that moment where he gets to say goodbye.
In fact, what he thought would make her feel better, actually, you know…killed her. Well, not really but she was watching the film and then she went into a coma. These are the facts. But it was a very unromanticised death: there was no hand holding or last words. It was beautiful in how terrible the whole thing was.
6. You can always learn something new about someone – even when they’re not around
This is probably the most important revelation in the entire film. Mr. McCarthy, Greg’s favourite teacher and often the source of unconventional wisdom, shares the story about how people who share interesting facts about his father who passed away.
At the end of the film, Greg is in Rachel’s room, following the wake of her passing. They spent about six months together and in that time they learnt a lot about each other.
But as he walks around her room, he discovers so much more about her. He finds that even in her death, there is still so much to learn about her life. We often find that losing someone means losing everything about them, but we forget that their lives were shared with other people too and there is always stories or experiences that they shared with them. No person’s book is ever really closed.
And always remember: Respect The Research
What other life lessons did you take from Me, Earl and the Dying Girl? Answer in the comments section.