Eighth Grade
Josh Hamilton and Elsie Fisher


Overview - In his feature film directorial debut, comedian Bo Burnham deftly encapsulates the awkwardness, angst, self-loathing and reinvention that a teenage girl goes through on the cusp of high school. Given that the 27-year-old stand-up comic achieved fame as a teenager himself through YouTube by riffing on his insecurities, he is uniquely capable as the film's writer and director to tell the story of Kayla, an anxious girl navigating the final days of her eighth grade year, despite creating a protagonist w female instead of male. Like Burnham did more than a decade ago, 13-year-old Kayla turns to YouTube to express herself, where she makes advice vlogs in which she pretends to have it all together. In reality, Kayla is sullen and silent around her single father and her peers at school, carrying out most of her interactions with her classmates on Instagram and Twitter. Her YouTube videos are a clever narrative tool that provide insight into her inner hopes and dreams, much like an aspirational online diary. One of EIGHTH GRADE's biggest triumphs is in its realism. Played with charm and delightful nuance by Elsie Fisher, Kayla doesn't speak a single line that isn't peppered with "umm," "like" or "whatever." Her posture and gestures communicate how uncomfortable she is in her own skin. She has acne that she hides under makeup and Snapchat filters. Her attempts at depth in her videos are adorably off the mark, such as her advice that, "The hard part of being yourself is that it's not easy." Burnham's attention to detail helps weave a 2018-specific yet universally relatable image of teendom. Kayla stays up late scrolling through Buzzfeed quizzes and slime videos, has a HAMILTON calendar and Justin Bieber poster on her wall, and signs off her videos with the slang term "gucci." Her middle school sex ed video includes an actress saying learning about puberty is "gonna be lit." The reference might be of the now, but the feeling it conveys, of adults awkwardly appropriating slang for their own agenda, resonates no matter what era in which you came of age. EIGHTH GRADE's unique skillfulness in communicating Kayla's inner life is often thanks to the film's sound and music teams. The three beeps of a Mac laptop's Photobooth application precede each of Kayla's vlog monologues. Enya's "Sail Away" provides a poignant soundtrack to Kayla escaping into the online world on her phone late at night. The score swelling to dramatic highs then abruptly stopping creates many of the film's laugh-out-loud moments and mirrors the emotional rollercoaster that is puberty. When Kayla attends a pool party, she pauses just inside a sliding glass door, nervously watching the scene outside while a Jaws-like theme plays. She finally reaches for the handle and the music cuts out right as the door sticks, ruining her cinematic act of bravery. At one point, Kayla gets the chance to hang out with some high school kids at the mall, and one of them comments that kids Kayla's age are "wired differently" because they began interacting with social media at such a young age. However, while Kayla does spend a majority of the film in the glow of her iPhone screen, EIGHTH GRADE illustrates that as much as things are different for the current tech-emersed generation of children, their emotional evolution remains the same. Kayla must still navigate judgmental queen bees, predatory popular boys, clueless teachers, and overprotective parents on her way to coming into her own. For anyone who's ever been an eighth grader, Kayla's quiet journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is encouraging and edifying.

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Overview

In his feature film directorial debut, comedian Bo Burnham deftly encapsulates the awkwardness, angst, self-loathing and reinvention that a teenage girl goes through on the cusp of high school. Given that the 27-year-old stand-up comic achieved fame as a teenager himself through YouTube by riffing on his insecurities, he is uniquely capable as the film's writer and director to tell the story of Kayla, an anxious girl navigating the final days of her eighth grade year, despite creating a protagonist w female instead of male. Like Burnham did more than a decade ago, 13-year-old Kayla turns to YouTube to express herself, where she makes advice vlogs in which she pretends to have it all together. In reality, Kayla is sullen and silent around her single father and her peers at school, carrying out most of her interactions with her classmates on Instagram and Twitter. Her YouTube videos are a clever narrative tool that provide insight into her inner hopes and dreams, much like an aspirational online diary. One of EIGHTH GRADE's biggest triumphs is in its realism. Played with charm and delightful nuance by Elsie Fisher, Kayla doesn't speak a single line that isn't peppered with "umm," "like" or "whatever." Her posture and gestures communicate how uncomfortable she is in her own skin. She has acne that she hides under makeup and Snapchat filters. Her attempts at depth in her videos are adorably off the mark, such as her advice that, "The hard part of being yourself is that it's not easy." Burnham's attention to detail helps weave a 2018-specific yet universally relatable image of teendom. Kayla stays up late scrolling through Buzzfeed quizzes and slime videos, has a HAMILTON calendar and Justin Bieber poster on her wall, and signs off her videos with the slang term "gucci." Her middle school sex ed video includes an actress saying learning about puberty is "gonna be lit." The reference might be of the now, but the feeling it conveys, of adults awkwardly appropriating slang for their own agenda, resonates no matter what era in which you came of age. EIGHTH GRADE's unique skillfulness in communicating Kayla's inner life is often thanks to the film's sound and music teams. The three beeps of a Mac laptop's Photobooth application precede each of Kayla's vlog monologues. Enya's "Sail Away" provides a poignant soundtrack to Kayla escaping into the online world on her phone late at night. The score swelling to dramatic highs then abruptly stopping creates many of the film's laugh-out-loud moments and mirrors the emotional rollercoaster that is puberty. When Kayla attends a pool party, she pauses just inside a sliding glass door, nervously watching the scene outside while a Jaws-like theme plays. She finally reaches for the handle and the music cuts out right as the door sticks, ruining her cinematic act of bravery. At one point, Kayla gets the chance to hang out with some high school kids at the mall, and one of them comments that kids Kayla's age are "wired differently" because they began interacting with social media at such a young age. However, while Kayla does spend a majority of the film in the glow of her iPhone screen, EIGHTH GRADE illustrates that as much as things are different for the current tech-emersed generation of children, their emotional evolution remains the same. Kayla must still navigate judgmental queen bees, predatory popular boys, clueless teachers, and overprotective parents on her way to coming into her own. For anyone who's ever been an eighth grader, Kayla's quiet journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is encouraging and edifying.

Main Cast & Crew

Bo Burnham - Director
Josh Hamilton
Elsie Fisher
Emily Robinson
Missy Yager
Greg Crowe
Deborah Unger
Daniel Zolghadri
Imani Lewis
Jake Ryan
Frank Deal

 
Details
    DVD Format
  • Format: DVD
  • Run Time: 94
  • Color Format: Color
  • UPC: 031398292487
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Rating: R (language and some sexual material)
  • Release Date: October 2018

Related Categories:
Movies > Dramas

Related Keywords:
Coming Of Age
Teenage
Teenagers
High School Experiences
Self-Esteem
Internet

 
Movie Reviews

More Details

Reviews:
"What makes this coming-of-age film special is that it’s at once harsh and humanist: a perceptive, realistic comedy about tweenage life that’s also rich in compassion, that scarcest of junior-high commodities." -- Grade: B+ - 07/13/2018 A.V. Club


3.5 stars out of 4 -- "EIGHTH GRADE is an act of nervy humorous empathy." - 07/13/2018 RogerEbert.com


"[A] sharp, sensitive and enormously affecting new movie..." - 07/11/2018 Los Angeles Times


5 stars out of 5 -- "[Burnham] has taken the tiniest details in the life of a 13-year-old girl moving through the digital age, filtered them through his own madly inventive headspace, and created the kind of movie that leaves you laughing hysterically or fighting back tears, often simultaneously." - 07/11/2018 Rolling Stone


"Ms. Fisher -- only 14 when the movie was shot -- complements with a performance that’s so visceral and unforced that you might find yourself transported back in time..." - 07/11/2018 New York Times


"[A] sweet and intelligent and sometimes absolutely heartbreaking slice of modern-day, eighth-grade life..." - 07/18/2018 Chicago Sun-Times


"[Made with] empathetic realism and thrilling surrealism. Elsie Fisher is the stalwart middle-school heart of EIGHTH GRADE, her character somehow finding herself among infinite social media mirrors." - 12/27/2018 Boston Globe


5 stars out of 5 -- "Bo Burnham’s authentic, warm and compassionate study of the struggle to connect and the human condition is utterly universal and a joy for any viewer, regardless of gender or graduation date." - 03/22/2019 Total Film


4 stars out of 5 -- "[I]nnovative and thrillingly honest....Bo Burnham has renounced stand-up comedy to mould his cripplingly self-aware material into a truthful picture about growing up Extremely Online." - 04/23/2019 Empire


"[T]he real genius of EIGHTH GRADE is its universality -- an honesty and compassion that cut across generational boundaries." - 04/28/2019 The Guardian

 
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