Directed and Written by: Bo Burnham
Starring: Elsie Fisher, Emily Robinson and Josh Hamilton
Run Time: 1h 34min
4 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
This movie is delightful! I’m not waiting until the end of the review to inform you that it’s an absolute must-see. Trust me, folks. Don’t wait until DVD or cable. See it immediately. Yes. I realize the new Ant-Man is still at the theatre but if you’ve waited this long to catch it, you can wait a little longer. A special little word of advice is that this isn’t for youngsters. It has its R rating for a reason. A24 knows that the film could have a wider audience by editing the hell out of it and opening it up to the younger crowd but they knew not to. In this case, it was better to keep the integrity of the film by leaving its authenticity. People struggling in the age group that the film centers around would be interested in the film, however, due to the fact the movies that come out of Hollywood do show real-life scenarios and use foul language that entertains an audience, it’s not always appropriate to go for the lower rating. In this case, I’m glad they stuck with leaving the actor/filmmaker Bo Burnham’s feature debut’s script sincere and therefore more substantive. He wrote a fantastic story and though it gets a little raw, so does life. He also couldn’t have cast his main character any better.
Elsie Fisher, who’s bound to get some notice from the role, plays Kayla Day, a young girl who has one week left of middle-school before she’s off to high school. As youngsters are this day and age, she’s heavily into social media. We get to know her at first by the videos of herself that she keeps filming and posting. These videos are mostly informative and encouraging on how to get through this thing called life. They’re comical, eye-opening and honest; as is the film itself. Though she mostly struggles through each day, shoulders slouched, fighting with how others see her and how she sees herself, at least she plays the hand she’s been dealt with courage. She doesn’t have many friends and realizes that at the moment, her best is within. The film does show us how much teenagers are glued to their phones these days and how youth spends more time texting to one another rather than speaking face-to-face but Burnham isn’t pontificating. He’s simply giving his audience reality.
Another main character, who is fighting his own eerily similar demons, is her father Mark Day, played by Josh Hamilton. Hamilton plays him frantic and clueless, which he is. Kayla’s somewhat indifferent toward him and, distracted by her own life, she’s disinterested in what he’s going through. Both are lost and to a degree quite detached from one another and the rest of the world.
With Kayla, her father doesn’t stand a chance which is another side of this film that Burnham gets right. Their relationship is fascinating to watch. I’m glad Burnham was the writer/director to tackle the subject. He shows that they love one another but that Mark is trying to be his daughter’s friend which, at times, comes off quite disturbing. He’s also trying to be cool but instead is being the exact opposite. Pay special attention to the scene in the mall.
You’re going to have a wonderful time and be thoroughly entertained watching ‘Eighth Grade.’ And who knows, with many or some of the scenes, you could see yourself, relate to Kayla’s or Mark’s experience. We may not all be parents but we were all once in the eighth grade. You might even find yourself a bit uncomfortable. If you do, that’s the mark of a good film. All that said, Burnham’s Freshman offering is a home run and a film worthy of the theatre run it’s getting so check it out to see if you recognize anyone you know. I desperately don’t want this film to be missed, it’s that good. See it… you’ll be fascinated.
*Opens in Phoenix area exclusively at Harkins Camelview @ Fashion Square
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