“Eighth Grade” captures true middle school experience


Middle school in a nutshell was a terrible experience, and nothing portrays that experience better than the film “Eighth Grade”. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut follows Kayla Day (played by Elsie Fisher), an eighth grader in her last week of middle school. She goes through an assortment of chaotic social events that are sure to resonate with anyone. Everything about the dialogue felt authentic and really showed how younger people talk in today’s age. The humor, nothing short of cringe-worthy in a good way, had me laughing out loud all the way through. Unlike most teenage films, this doesn’t feel cheesy or unrealistic, but instead gives a raw reflection of the true teenage experience.

Elsie Fisher delivers a highly relatable, vibrant performance embodying an average 13-year-old. She frequently uses technology, and instead of portraying that as a negative, the film balances the good and bad of it. We see her recording video blogs giving advice on various topics about the teenage life (being yourself, how to be confident, etcetera.), though we later realizes she knows next to nothing about these topics. It only adds to her character, showing how she still has so much more to understand and grow from. Her dweeby father (Josh Hamilton) often comes into play to help offer wisdom and support to Kayla’s day-to-day life. There’s an emotional monologue he delivers near the end that really hits the bat on how I think most parents feel about their children.

There’s so much that hits close to home it’s almost scary, like having an awkward conversation with a crush or trying to start conversation with the “cool kids.” There’s a pool scene that was almost a reflection of how I was at social events growing up. Kayla’s anxiety during those scenes were spot on the same way me and others felt in middle school. So many scenes of the film were realistic, that I have to applaud Bo Burnham for it. Everything technical wise was nearly perfect from the synth soundtrack to the mostly bright, colorful cinematography. Anna Meredith’s score in scenes really added a hypnotizing, yet soothing vibe through it all. The way everything works in the film is so impressive, especially coming from a first time director.

Every generation has their fair share of films that represents their own generation, and I think “Eighth Grade” is a worthy candidate to represent ours. Elsie Fisher deserves more attention, as well as Bo Burnham, after this. “Eighth Grade” is an unapologetically honest, beautiful film that anyone at any age should go see.

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