“Eighth Grade” is the realistic take on middle school the world needs

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A24 Films

Elsie Fisher hits the mark with her starring debut in this feature film.

It is highly unusual to see a realistic movie about middle school. From “Matilda” to “School of Rock,” movies revolving around middle school usually focus on some fantastical aspect rather than its realistic highs and lows. “Eighth Grade” is such a realistic adaptation that I often found myself cringing and remarking at my awkward days in middle school.
The movie revolves around the last week of eighth grade through the eyes of Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher). Kayla uses YouTube as an outlet, making motivational videos to escape her shy persona at school.
Vine star and stand-up comedian, Bo Burnham, makes his writing and acting debut with this flick from indie production company A24. Burnham has received high praise for his Netflix comedy specials “what” and “Make Happy.”
“Eighth Grade” offers a true look into what middle school is like. It is not a fairytale. It is one of the movies that needs to be watched by everyone. It does not create unrealistic expectations, but it still offers the entertainment that a more nonsensical movie would.
The film opens with Kayla’s YouTube video about being yourself. This scene sets the stage for the entire movie by showing the confident person Kayla is on the Internet but juxtaposing it soon after, with her winning the “most quiet” superlative at an assembly.
Burnham did a fantastic job in portraying the true awkwardness of middle-schoolers. At the end of her YouTube videos, Kayla concluded with the word “gucci,” which was met with a collective shudder from the audience. The memorable pool party scene is accompanied by a painful montage of her classmates flipping their eyelids and spraying water out of their teeth.
This movie was intentionally awkward. However, it wasn’t in the sense that you wanted to stop watching, but more in an empathetic way of reacting to Kayla’s mishaps as if she was a friend or even yourself.
Fisher displays a groundbreaking performance in her first starring role because of her ability to truly become her character. Day has mannerisms that I often saw in myself and in my friends at that age: her hunched posture, refusal to make eye contact, and constantly being on her phone.

Associated Press
Elsie Fisher (Kayla Day) and Bo Burnham wow audiences with Fisher’s first starring role and Burnham’s film directorial debut.
Repetition was highly evident throughout the film with Kayla’s motivational YouTube videos. One of her most memorable quips consisted of Kayla talking about having an awkward friend over and getting to know her as if she was popular. Kayla’s speech played right before she had a mental breakdown in the bathroom at a pool party, symbolizing how she used her videos to become a different person.
The relationship between Kayla and her father (Josh Hamilton) is strained because of her adolescent angst. Kayla is transfixed by her phone and spends their dinners yelling at her dad to leave her alone. It was easy to see the similarities between their relationship and the relationships of many teens and their parents today.
The movie received an R rating for profanity and sexual material, however, Burnham counteracted the rating by buying out theaters in 39 states, excluding Georgia, on August 8th so that younger audiences could view it. Its content resembles the truth of eighth grade, so it should not have such a restrictive rating.
This movie was as much of a masterpiece as eighth grade could be. It offered a realistic look at a transformative year. Anyone who has experienced eighth grade should see this film because of its awkward nostalgia and Fisher’s stunningly normal portrayal.