Me And Earl And The Dying Girl is a US comedy drama based on a bestselling book of the same name. The film revolves around seventeen-year-old high school student Greg, who has managed to become part of every social group without ever making any real friends beyond Earl, a 'co-worker' with whom he makes parodies of classic movies. However, Greg's life changes forever when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school and who has just been diagnosed with leukaemia.
The film arrived at the BBFC in March 2015 for an advice viewing, with a request for a 12A category; a specific request can often be helpful in giving the BBFC an idea of the target audience that the film makers see for the film.
It already had a PG-13 certificate from the Motion Picture Association of America (the MPAA), with 'sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements' the published reasons for the rating.
The sexual content in the film occurs in a scene in which Greg's parents enter his bedroom as he's watching footage of a girl dancing in a short skirt on his laptop. As he closes down the window, several other images appear onscreen – the suggestion being that he has been visiting online pornography sites. During the advice viewing by BBFC Compliance Managers, these images seemed to them to be just a blur of limbs and heads. However, they viewed the scene a second time, in slow motion, to ensure that it contained no explicit material. Other sex references include a scene in which Greg suggests that his parents are worried that he might masturbate onto a pillow. Given the lack of detail in the scene and the sex references, the Compliance Managers considered the film to be acceptable at 12A.
Language in the film consisted of a single audible use of strong language ('f**k'), in a scene in which a girl tells the protagonist to just 'make the f**king movie'. The character is frustrated and the use is not aggressive, allowing it to pass at 12A. The film also contains a couple of bleeped uses of strong language, heard as the main characters watch an edited version of the film Burden Of Dreams on TV, and then shoot a spoof of the same film. As well as the strong language, there are fairly frequent uses of other terms, such as 'dickhead', 'bitch' and 'shit'.
Drug misuse occurs in a scene in which two of the main characters accidentally take drugs. It's implied in subsequent verbal references that the drug was marijuana, although there is no visual confirmation of this. The effects of the drugs are not presented in an attractive manner and it's clear that the characters taking them want the effects to wear off as soon as possible. As such, Compliance Managers reasoned that the scene, which is 'infrequent' within the work as a whole, was permissible at 12A, given that it is neither glamorised nor instructional (chiefly because the characters don't actually realise they took the drugs, let alone how they were prepared).
Compliance Managers considered that the film's teenage terminal cancer theme, also explored the previous year in the box office hit The Fault In Our Stars (12A), was sensitively handled and did not present a classification issue at 12A.
After the advice viewing, the film was recommended at 12A uncut and then passed at that category when submitted for formal classification in May 2015. The short BBFCinsight advises 'moderate sex references, drug references, infrequent strong language' to explain the category decision.
Me And Earl And The Dying Girl was also passed at 12 for DVD and digital release, and selected for the Into Film Festival 2016.