Eighth Grade Film Review

Updated: Jul 31, 2018

I can't stop thinking about this movie.

Eighth Grade is one of those special movies that make me feel every emotion ever but it especially hits so close to home because I truly felt like I saw myself on the big screen. It was almost scary at some points how accurate what Kayla was going through was. I have never seen a middle schooler's story be told so respectfully and effectively with so much substance and care. Most of the time, middle schoolers are shown as being the annoying sibling or shown as acting "dumb" and are basically substance-less and unimportant. Of course, teenagers make mistakes but don't we all?!? Put yourself in their shoes, they are constantly learning and growing just like everybody is!!! Kayla was not someone who didn't make mistakes because she was a completely realistic and layered person but her mistakes were taken seriously and not in a way that was making fun of her or making the audience feel like we should be annoyed with her. We saw her struggling, we saw her panicking, we saw her at her lowest and her highest. Her mistakes and her problems were shown with respect towards her and respect for all people that age. When you are a teenager, every little thing completely destroys your world.

When you are in middle school and even high school, your whole world is your "school you", as Kayla cutely stated in one of her YouTube videos. Your peers and their approval are all that seems to matter at that point in your life because you spend almost all your time with them. Social media makes school even harder because all of your classmates lives are constantly following you on your phone. When you get home from school, you are suppose to have a break from your peers and relax but all of a sudden you log on to Instagram and the people you may envy or the people you have a crush on are posting beautiful pictures about how much fun they are having. You really can never get away from consuming the lives of those around you. Growing up with social media is very difficult and unique and this film tackles that very well. The film showed the negative backlash that social media can have on the mind and how that affects us. Kayla is constantly on her phone, liking every picture on Instagram, commenting on random photos, doing Buzzfeed quizzes and my favorite part, she makes YouTube videos about life advice. When I was in eighth grade, I also made really crappy YouTube videos (but I rarely posted them. I wasn't as brave as her). I was bad at talking to my peers. I panicked when I was with a large group of people my age like Kayla did. I felt lonely and was constantly trying to "belong". And one of the most special aspects of this film is that I still feel all those things, not as heightened as I did in middle school but that goes to show that this film is easy for anyone to learn from and relate to. We all have caught ourselves performing to try and fit in and our middle school years really is the definition of that. I just saw so much of myself in Kayla, it was getting scary. I want to hug her so badly and tell her that everything is going to be alright. Middle school you is not important. High school you is not important. They are such small parts of your life that does not define you at all. I wish I saw this when I was 13 and saw that I was not alone. I feel as though every middle schooler should witness this film (even though it is rated R). I would have seen that I was not the only one who thought like this and felt like this. This film is for anyone at any age and it does not have to be nostalgic for you, even though it completely was for me, because it is about eighth graders in our current society. But, again, we can all relate to Kayla's awkwardness or her dad's obliviousness. Everyone can learn from and see themselves in this film.

Eighth Grade was so realistic that you'd forget at points you were even watching a movie. The script, written (and directed) by the incredible Bo Burnham, felt so accurate and natural. I don't know exactly how middle schoolers are in this current generation but this felt pretty true to reality. Everything the students did and said seemed to be something that I'd see or find in a middle school. The one white, tiny boy that Kayla had a crush on was one of my favorite parts. In middle school, my friends and I were also boy crazed for sometimes no reason besides how "cute" they were. This film could just not be more accurate and also had such spot on comedic timing. The movie beautifully blended comedy and drama. The film was genuinely hilarious not only through the dialogue and actions but also because of the awkward and cringeworthy situations that occurred including her crush on the cocky, little boy that were enhanced due to many technical aspects including the editing and the music.

I also can't not mention how amazing Elsie Fisher (Kayla) was and how she gave her character so much depth and honesty. She completely blew me away. She became Kayla and you could see and feel every emotion and thought and issue she was going through.

Bo is such a fabulous writer, comedian and human being. This was his directorial debut and I can not wait for him to direct more films. At my screening of this film, Bo was there and did a q&a after the film. He brought up an eighth grader on stage and sat criss cross with him and they discussed one of the most serious parts of the film. He also said to bring some more women up to the microphone to ask questions. Bo spoke about how he was influenced for this film with the idea that life is a performance. Kayla was constantly performing for her specific audience and this is further expressed in the film due to the fact that in Kayla's YouTube videos she acts and talks like someone she is not. I especially loved that Bo spoke about how he loved that this film is being shown in movie theaters because then Kayla is above us and bigger than us, she has all of our attention. This just further proves how much her story was respected and how Bo represented middle schoolers like they are people who deserve our attention and not just annoying, careless teenagers. Kayla was just a human who felt alone and desired to make friends and gain confidence. We can all relate to that lonely and timid feeling and this film just tackled that feeling through an eighth graders eyes and world.

Bo Burnham and Elsie Fisher on set

I could honestly go on about this movie for so long and go on about how much I love Kayla and how much I want to give her a hug and be her best friend. When this film comes out in theaters on July 13th I am going to see it 2000+ times and so should all of you. This move makes me feel so warm and comfortable and content and I'm so damn in love.



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