“Eighth Grade” review
“Eighth Grade” is a (sometimes painfully) accurate story of coming-of-age in the digital age. And in this case, calling it painful is a good thing.
In it, 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher) endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence in all its anxiety, social media bubbles, parental disagreements and politics of fitting in as she makes her way through the last week of middle school.
We wouldn’t really call it a comedy even though it is very funny. It’s written by a comedian, but there are no real jokes. You just end up laughing anyway because of how relatable and specific it gets while representing how rough, scary and confusing life can be as a 13-year-old.
For being written and directed by Bo Burnham, a 27-year-old male, it’s an impressively empathetic story of a teenage girl. But then again, he is the product of his middle school awkward phase and one of the first people to come of age as a YouTube star.
Elsie Fisher’s acting is what makes it all feel real though. It’s hard to believe she’s a 15-year-old-actress, not a real teen named Kayla. Everything from her slouched body language, to her awkward small talk, her fights with her dad, to her acne are so authentic that it will make you remember things you thought you forgot about when you were that old.
It will bring you back to the time you were gawkily navigating the halls of your own middle school, but this movie isn’t nostalgic. It’s a movie about the present. It makes us remember a universally difficult age, but shows how today’s teens have to deal with everything we did plus social media, school shooter drills and higher rates of anxiety and depression.
To better understand today’s youth (unlike the dabbing teacher in it), watch this heartwarming, somewhat angsty and funny movie. Real-life eighth graders approve, too.
And if you like “Eighth Grade,” you should watch: all of John Hughes’ films, “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Ladybird” and “Elephant”
“Eighth Grade” is screening now in Milwaukee.