Greg is a socially awkward high school senior who prefers to avoid actual emotional connection with his classmates through a mix of social avoidance, amusingly shallow but calculating interactions with his peers and hiding out at lunchtime with his “co-worker” Earl (who anybody else would probably call a best friend), making hilarious spoofs of famous art films with titles like A Sockwork Orange or Senior Citizen Kane. This placid existence gets shaken up when his mother announces that his classmate Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia and insists that Greg pay her a visit to “cheer her up.” If this was a typical YA tear-jerker of the John Green or Nicholas Sparks variety, there would be a touching romance and a predictably sad trajectory of love, loss and understanding. But let me assure that this is not that film. The friendship is purely platonic and, astonishingly, the film is much more funny than it is sad. Hell, it’s no stretch to call large swatches of it hilarious, especially for cineastes who will chortle out loud at some of the absurd takes on cinema sacred cows that Greg and Earl produce in their spare time when they should probably be doing homework. It’s also 100% genuinely touching in a very real way – every character feels like an actual person, warts and all, and reacts to their circumstances in a way that either defies or subverts convention in a standard boy-finds-girl, girl-gets-cancer, boy-loses-girl picture. Trite platitudes are expressed and then exploded and the film sneakily weasels its way into even the most cynical heart by making you genuinely care about these real-word quirky characters. It EARNS your tears.

On a personal note, it made me desperately long to visit Pittsburgh, where I grew up. It shows the Burgh that I loved and longed for, stuck out in the suburbs, as an awkward teen myself.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl opens nationwide on June 12.