Book vs Movie: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Page to screen adaptations are always hard. The directors and producers have to please the fans of the book as well as all the people who have not read it. A lot of the times, it is the bookish who leave the theatre disappointed, because the crew has sacrificed the original plot for one they consider to be better.

And so, after watching Me and Earl and the Dying Girl yesterday, I decided that I would make a post to compare and contrast the book and their movie adaptations.

I want to start by saying that I didn’t enjoy the book very much. I had been told that it was funny, but the humor did not appeal to me; I found it weird at best and crass at worst. I could not find any common ground with the main character, and so therefore could not get into the book. As a result, I had extremely low expectations for the movie.

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the movie, but not the book.

jesse-andrews

The first thing that the book shared with the movie was Jesse Andrews, who wrote both the former and the screen play for the latter. This was fortunate, as it meant that the only changes made were ones that made sense. Also, many of the phrases/sentences from the book are used when Greg is narrating.

There were a few minor changes- like Earl’s height, how many brothers he has, and the content of the final film- but it wasn’t enough to irritate me. The disgusting texts and conversations between Earl and Greg were cut out, which was awesome. Then there were the major changes at the end of the movie- like Greg having feelings and Rachel cutting up her books. To me, these were wise choices that improved the movie.

The one thing about the movie that I did not like- mostly because I didn’t understand it- was Madison asking Greg to prom. He gets all dressed up, his mom gives him a corsage, and then he goes to the hospital to show Rachel a film. All that is fine and dandy, but Greg never meets up with Madison, nor is it implied that she wanted him to go to Rachel, so it felt like she was being stood up. And I think that that could have been better.

me-and-earl

To me, the book just translated better as a movie. The cast- including Thomas Mann as Greg, Olivia Cooke as Rachel, and R.J. Cyler as Earl- perfectly embodied the characters. Book-Greg had seemed two dimensional, but movie-Greg brought him to life and made him seem more human. Book-Greg constantly put himself down, and since that is all that we get to see of him it is all that we know. In the movie, however, there are glimpses of a good person beneath the self hatred because we get to see it for ourselves. I also found that the not-so-funny parts of the book were turned into hilarious moments in the movie. I don’t know if this is because of the wonderful cast (and that fact that Thomas reminds me of my favorite cousins) or if the removal of the crass humor was all it needed, but whatever it was I found it immensely enjoyable. The plot, which was simple and a little boring as a book, was perfectly suited for a movie in the way that it was broken up into strange chapters.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked the movie more than the book. I highly recommend seeing Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which is out in theaters now, because it is funny, realistic, and incredibly moving. I think that it is a rare adaptation that will please both the people who have and haven’t read the book.

4 thoughts on “Book vs Movie: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

  1. ok so i finished the book me and earl and the dying girl last night. i thought it was a great book except for the ending. I know the authors purpose was to end the book like that but personally i didn’t feel it had the ending an amazing book like that deserved. the ending need more too it more substance. Tonight i watched the movie of me and earl and the dying girl and i love it more than the book and you will never ever hear me say that. I loved them both very much but the reason i loved the movie more was because they added something extremely beautiful to the ending that the book just didn’t have. it sparked my emotions more raw than the book and brought me to tear, but to tears of joy, and sadness at the same time. i loved the book more in the sense that the detail and writing was amazing, and the tense that the book was written in was used very well, and added life to the book. It also included many details that were not excited in the movie. I personally hated this at first, because i hate when movies slater books by making the movies so different and worse, but i also liked it more because of the differences. The differences were differences that only improved it for the watcher, because if they tried adding all the detail the book had, it would start to get very confusing. in the movie they only focused on the import aspects that would catch a watchers attention and make the movie more pleasurable. i personally enjoyed the book greatly, and respect the ending the author chose, but the movie was even better of an ending than i could have imagined.

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    1. I totally agree about the ending of the book vs the ending of the movie. The end of the book just lacked UMPH, you know? And I adore the movie, it is so funny and so sweet and so sad all at once. And I really like that we have different opinions of the book, because I get to see what made it special in your eyes.

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  2. I saw the movie; I’m 2/3 through the book now. The movie was excellent in most ways, but I agree that the prom-to-hospital transition was unclear. Living in Pittsburgh (where the story is set and movie was filmed) gave me a clue to what MAY have been intended: Madison tells him her address, but when he gets there it actually turns out to be the address of the hospital; finding himself there, he decides Madison is pushing him to do the right thing and visit Rachel. That would be consistent with Greg’s character: He seems to feel that he needs someone to tell him what to do to be a decent person.

    But I could be wrong. I just did some searching looking for an explanation of that bit of the movie, and I only found people saying he stood up Madison and it didn’t make sense. I also may be recalling the address given in the movie incorrectly (because it was months ago) but I think it was 300 Halket Street, which is Magee Women’s Hospital–at any rate, it WAS an address in that immediate neighborhood, triggering me to think, “Madison lives over by Magee?!?” and then when the limo pulled up to the hospital, I thought, “Oh, they’re using Magee for the exterior of Children’s Hospital…. Madison wants him to go visit Rachel.” But IMDB says they filmed at a suburban hospital and at Children’s, so that’s not Magee. I don’t know.

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