There’s a bit of an ongoing fad at the moment in American cinema for teen drama that mixes romantic comedy staples with serious life issues, usually involving terminal illnesses. Most examples of this are fairly inane, but there have been a few standouts, with this lighter-than-most attempt being the latest pleasant surprise. Thankfully, this plays its comedy harder than the majority of its peers, and it has a cinematically self-aware streak a mile wide that lends proceedings a more original feel than the subject matter usually contains.

Other things help too – a cracking young cast, a really nice score put together by Brian Eno, and perhaps most enjoyable of all (for film nerds, anyway) an almost constant stream of direct references and spoken namechecks to the work of Werner Herzog (not what most people would expect from this kind of movie). Overall though, this works because it manages to be funny without ever drifting into the alienating side of teenage snark, and rather than striving to be profound is happy to provide simple, honest insight into the way young people deal with grief.

Another film about a teenager dying and the drama it causes their friends5
Actually way more funny and light-hearted than that sounds8
Managing to be clever and self-mocking without overdoing it to the point of irritation8
A very fair and non-patronising portrayal of teenage grief9
Having the characters discuss Werner Herzog throughout the movie9
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
8Overall Score

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