Eighth grade is the worst.
Comedian Bo Burnham‘s feature film directorial debut, this was a cute little “coming of age” story about finding yourself and being comfortable in your own skin with all your quirks and individuality. I loved the fact that the kids/actors all were in middle or high school (or at least looked like they were)…it bothers me when movies want me to believe this man-child who looks and is built like he’s at least in his mid-20s is supposed to be a high school sophomore.
Elsie Fisher was a natural as the introverted teenage girl Kayla, trying to survive her last weeks of a tumultuous 8th grade year. Kayla works through her awkwardness and insecurities through her YouTube channel (similar to how Bo Burnham himself rose to fame as a teenager). I love how the film teased and shot the scene where Elsie tells off snob Kennedy. Elsie’s Dad, played by Josh Hamilton, was superb as a mix of overprotective, single dad trying to be a “friend first”. The supporting cast was also great.
You want to think that talk of blow jobs and such was an exaggeration for the 13/14 year olds, but trust me, that’s very accurate unfortunately (I used to work with 8th graders in NYC and you’d be surprised (or maybe not smh) at what they were doing, let alone talking about. They grow up fast and it begs the age old question…is it art imitating life or life imitating art?
I definitely feel like I had a little Elsie in me back in middle/high school. I was kinda shy and quiet, but only until I really got going (or got to know you)…I was quirky and didn’t really fit in to any one box/clique/stereotype (still don’t). But eventually I grew to embrace my unique weirdness…after all, we’re all weird (especially at that age)…its just a matter of scale/perspective.
Overall, this was a touching little story about the trials and tribulations of growing up and love yourself and your family. I highly recommend this one for everybody. Currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Fun Fact: Eight Grade was one of former President Barack Obama’s favorite films of 2018.