I hadn’t seen this movie yet, although it had a great buzz. It won two honors at the Sundance Film Festival – the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize – but I had wanted to see other films more. After my good friend Dennis G. raved about it, however, I was “dying ” to go see it.
Greg (Thomas Mann) is an alienated, emotionally walled-off high school senior lacking confidence and self-esteem. He believes he is stupid, ugly and doesn’t have anything to offer, and deliberately avoids being a member of any of the high school cliques. His one interest is making films spoofing old classic movies. Assisting him in this endeavor is his only friend, a black teenager from a bad neighborhood, Earl (R. J. Cyler). They take film classics like “Midnight Cowboy” and make “2:48 p.m. Cowboy.” Truffaut’s classic “400 Blows” becomes “400 Bros.” (The movie shows snippets of a few of their films, which are really funny.)
One day Greg’s mother suggests he visit his neighbor and classmate, Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who was just diagnosed with cancer. Greg barely knows Rachel and doesn’t want to visit her, but his mother insists. She learned this news from Rachel’s mother, Denise (a brilliant and very funny Molly Shannon), who is drinking excessively to try to cope with the stress. He stops by, but Rachel doesn’t want to hang out with him either. He begs her to let him stay, in order to get his mother off his back. Their time together goes well, and they become friends. The film primarily involves Greg and Rachel’s friendship, with Greg being the primary beneficiary. Rachel sees in Greg a funny, intelligent and a decent-looking young man, which starts to positively impact on Greg’s self-image.
The screenplay was written by the author of the same titled best-selling novel, Jesse Andrews. The Director (Alfonso Gomez-Rejon) does a fine job with the cast. Mann and Shannon give terrific performances. The film is often very funny, but is essentially a drama with serious themes.
The movie will work fine as a rental, but it’s good enough to see it now on the BS.