Eighth Grade Reviews
In a very real way, it's a universal story about growing up...its pains, sorrows, insecurities, decisions. Just YOUTH in all its confusion, glory & heartbreak. I really thought she did an uncanny job, it stuck with me long after credits rolled. I was glad for her heart to heart with her dad in the end, long in coming & yes, maybe not so "common" in OUR days. That's a move forward for 40+ years ago where we only much turned to friends!
In great hopes to see her on screen again soon! And please HOLLYWOOD more of this, less of the (mostly action) pointless spectacles with NO plot or character development.
Thus, I was keenly interested in "Eight Grade", a movie about a similarly friendless young girl named Kayla, who lives in an affluent suburban neighborhood with her dorky but well-meaning single dad.
The big difference between being an eighth grader now and when I was enduring it is apparent from the start: social media. Just about the only time Kayla puts down her phone is when she's on her laptop. In addition to constantly perusing and commenting on other people's posts, she also has her own YouTube channel where she posts a series of videos on topics like "the importance of being yourself" which hardly anyone ever watches.
I had a hard time understanding why Kayla has no friends. Other than being quiet and shy, she seems like a normal, well-adjusted 13-year-old who, in addition to being genuinely nice, also meets all of the superficial criteria that are so important to eighth grade popularity. She wears all the right clothes, she has the right hair and makeup, she's tethered to just the right iPhone. Though her skin isn't flawless and she's not rail-thin like Kennedy, a popular mean girl she unsuccessfully attempts to befriend, she's objectively pretty and it's hard to imagine that she's not in the top half of her class in terms of attractiveness. Surely her class must be filled with a lot more Kaylas than Kennedys.
Watching "Eighth Grade" was stressful and emotionally draining as I was in constant fear that Kayla would get hurt or make a regrettable decision. It felt like I was watching one of those horror movies where even during scenes showing people doing relatively boring things, you're constantly expecting Jason to jump out with a machete.
The best compliment I can give this movie is that if feels real. Uncomfortably real. Though Kayla does age 13 a whole lot better than I did, her struggle to navigate this, the suckiest of ages, is almost universally relatable.
But Eighth Grade is a shining example of this kind of movie. The editing and the score are amazing, the pool scene was genuinely terrifying, and it gave me flashbacks to a very similar time in my own life. Being a chubby kid at a pool party isn't fun. I love so much about this movie, and it gets so much of it's material so right. From the father daughter relationship, to the way it handles the standing up to the bully moment without compromising the personality of our hero, to the way it communicates adolescent lust. It's written and directed by Bo Burnham, which gives me an odd sense of pride. Bo is one of the things I can be truly hipstery about, I remember being insanely excited as a fan of his YouTube videos when he announced he was putting out his first EP on iTunes. Back when a YouTuber getting music on iTunes seemed like an accomplishment. I'm so happy he's had such success. This is another movie I wish I could have seen with Anthony, we listened to Bo Fo Sho about a million times back in the day.
Stick with that new friend, Kayla. The two of you might end up owning the world someday.