Australian Council on Children and the Media

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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Not recommended under 14 ; parental guidance recommended 14-15 (Themes; Disturbing scene; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • a review of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 September 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 14 Not recommended due to themes, a disturbing scene and coarse language
Children 14 to 15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and a disturbing scene

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes and coarse language
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl follows the story of high school student Greg (Thomas Mann) and his friend Earl (RJ Cyler), as they befriend a girl named Rachel (Olivia Cooke). Rachel has been diagnosed with leukaemia and Greg’s mother implores him to be a support to her during the difficult time. Despite being initially hesitant to form a close attachment to anyone other than Earl, Greg develops a fondness for Rachel. After having spent a lot of time producing short films, Greg and Earl show Rachel their collection in an effort to cheer her up. Rachel recommends that Greg produce a film about her chemotherapy in order to apply to colleges after he completes high school.

After Rachel discovers that her treatment has caused her more harm than good, she makes the decision to stop chemotherapy, greatly upsetting Greg. The friendship falls apart, with Rachel ending up in a hospice as her condition worsens.  Greg starts to do badly at school and fails to get into the college he had hoped for.

Eventually Greg decides to visit Rachel and bring her the completed film of her story.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

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

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Greg is punched by Earl during an argument
  • Greg has an aggressive verbal exchange with Rachel after she stops chemotherapy

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Rachel dies after a battle with leukaemia, for which she had chemotherapy. She dies in an emotional scene, with Greg by her side

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Rachel dies after a battle with leukaemia, for which she had chemotherapy. She dies in an emotional scene, with Greg by her side

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Rachel dies after a battle with leukaemia, for which she had chemotherapy. She dies in an emotional scene, with Greg by her side

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by Rachel's death

Product placement

There is some product placement, including:

  • References to YouTube and Apple
  • Toyota

Sexual references

There are some sexual references within the film, including:

  • There is innuendo and references to sexual terms such as ‘titties’.
  • Activities such as masturbation are discussed.
  • Online porn material is presented in a non-graphic way in the film also

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances, including:

  • Underage characters discuss drinking and ‘getting high accidentally’ when eating cookies that have marijuana in them.
  • Two teenage characters are provided with alcohol by a parent.
  • Rachel’s mother frequently drinks wine.

Coarse language

There is some use of coarse language, including:

  •  ‘titties’, ‘boobs’, ‘butthole’; ‘shit’; ‘fuck’; ‘asshole’; ‘bullshit’

In a nutshell

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is an emotional, heart-warming story about love and loss. It follows the journey of unlikely friends who form a close bond. The film highlights the strength of friendship, and the importance of not judging people before getting to really know them. It also demonstrates the notion that whilst illness can reduce a person physically, it does not destroy their mind and connection with others. The relationship between Greg and Rachel demonstrates the power of friendship, and the strength of bonds that can overcome obstacles.

The film is not recommended for children under 14 due to the theme of terminal illness and the distressing scene in which Rachel dies. Parental guidance is recommended for the 14-15 age group. Parents may also be concerned about the film’s coarse language and sexual references.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • The importance of not making assumptions about people, and allowing them to be themselves without boxing them into a stereotype.
  • The importance of having supportive friends in your life.
  • Valuing the time you get with the people you love, even when there are arguments and disagreements about things.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Issues related to terminal illness as portrayed through Rachel’s experience with leukaemia and chemotherapy.
  • The transition between high school and college, and the stress involved for students as they attempt to apply for tertiary education.

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