Eighth Grade is Fresh, Man


Via Variety.com

Real life eighth-grade Elsie Fisher makes her debut in Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade.

Written and directed by comedian Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade (2018) is a funny and relatable coming-of-age story. The film follows Kayla through the ups and downs of eighth grade– a notoriously tumultuous time in anyone’s life. Despite being quiet and insecure during school hours, Kayla actually has a strong voice, as evidenced by her advice channel on Youtube.

Throughout the movie, Kayla experiences the typical events of teenage life, ranging from an awkward pool party to hours spent scrolling through Twitter and Instagram.

In one of the movie’s pivotal scenes, Kayla arrives at a pool party with a lot of apprehensions but tries her best to ignore it and blend into the crowd. Despite her best efforts, she gives in to her insecurities and immediately submerges herself underwater to avoid social interaction with her peers. Actress Elise Fischer, the real-life 8th grader who plays Kayla, rises to the occasion in a challenging role where she must push herself to be vulnerable on screen.

Eighth Grade’s biggest accomplishment is its ability to portray the unique experience of a middle schooler in 2018 while still managing to feel universal. For example, the movie addresses Kayla’s addiction to technology and social media. However, this behavior comes from a desire to escape reality and curate an idealistic persona of herself– something people of all ages can resonate with.

The caliber of this film is especially impressive considering that it is Burnham’s directorial debut. The fact that he rose to fame as a teenager after the success of his own Youtube channel makes Burnham uniquely qualified to tell this story.

Eighth Grade has been highly praised by critics, receiving a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Having recently been an eighth-grader myself, I found this movie so realistic that it was almost unwatchable. If you can get past the cringe factor of Kayla’s story, Eighth Grade is a must-see (although personally, I need some time before I can watch it again).