Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: Offensive language & sexual references
Elsie Fisher as Kayla Day
Josh Hamilton as Mark Day
Emily Robinson as Olivia
Catherine Oliviere as Kennedy Graves
Jake Ryan as Gabe
Luke Prael as Aiden Wilson
Daniel Zolghadri as Riley
Director: Bo Bunrham
Thirteen-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher) endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of middle school — the end of her thus far disastrous eighth-grade year.
I heard a lot of positive things about Eighth Grade for a little while. All I knew about the movie was that it was focussing on a girl in eighth grade and apparently it was good. I didn’t know anything outside of that going in. Eighth Grade actually was quite good, an honest portrayal of adolescence and social anxiety with good acting, writing and direction.
I was nervous about some things going into Eighth Grade, every time a movie tries to focus on teenagers and particularly things in their lives like social media, more often than not it ends up being a 90+ minute dose of “How do you do fellow kids”. It’s particularly annoying to me when adults attempt to portray and present teenagers in movie and are clearly so out of touch with how kids actually are like. So when I say that Eighth Grade did it well, I mean it. It’s surprising all things considering, it features adults unironically saying “lit” and dabbing and still manages to feel authentic to real life. It’s been a while since I’ve been in eighth grade so I can’t be absolutely certain that they portrayed everything accurately, but it at least manages to capture the feeling of being in school around that time. Watching Eighth Grade at times could be cringey and uncomfortable but know that I mean that in a good way. Many of the situations that the lead character find herself in are awkward and it does a good job at making you almost as uncomfortable as her. There’s something about the whole movie that feels so natural and honest, especially when it comes to them portraying social anxiety quite well through the main character. Bo Burnham’s script is just so great overall and is a large part of why Eighth Grade works so well.
Elsie Fisher is great in the lead role, I haven’t seen her in anything really and she hasn’t been in much, but she worked so well here. Her performance is just so natural and you really are with her throughout the entire film. I guess it also helps that they cast an actual teenager in the role instead of an actress in her 20s pretending to be a teenager, like a lot of coming of age movies. Josh Hamilton is also really good as Fisher’s single father. He’s a tad too perfect and understanding of a father, which kind of took me out of the movie because of how mostly realistic the movie is. Nonetheless he and Fisher still really worked well together. There’s really nothing else to say about the rest of the cast, they play their roles well enough but they are usually in the background or show up for like a few scenes when they are focussed on and then just disappear from the rest of the movie.
I haven’t heard of Bo Burnham, before this movie apparently he was a Youtuber and a comedian and Eighth Grade is his directorial debut. I have to say that it was a pretty great directorial debut, really the cinematography and editing is definitely competent and compliment the rest of the movie quite well.
Eighth Grade is definitely well worth the watch. On top of the great performances by Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton, it’s a very genuine movie about adolescence and social anxiety, well written and directed by Bo Burnham. It’s well deserving of the praise it has been receiving.