Bo Burnham perfectly depicts a generation with new film Eighth Grade


I highly suggest you go out and buy some anti-aging cream before watching “Eighth Grade.” This film will bring you back to those dreadful prepubescent days of middle school, and you’ll be cringing through the whole 94 minutes, maybe even a couple hours after. The whole experience could seriously cause some third-degree wrinkles. “Eighth Grade,” is a dramatic comedy that takes a candid look into the lives of not only this years up and coming freshmen, but Generation Z as a whole. Many of the scenes in this film are painfully familiar, and I found myself constantly having to call attention to the fact that it was just a movie. I felt like I was watching an “I Survived” reenactment of myself trying to get through my own humiliating eighth-grade year.

“Eighth Grade” covers Kayla Day’s last week up until graduation from middle school. Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher, starts off her last week of eighth grade by winning the superlative ‘most quiet’ by her class. This leaves her mortified with her head in her hands. Unfortunately, her week does not get much better from there. The audience lives vicariously through Kayla as she dodges and even gets caught up in the useless turmoil that is middle school, and more specifically: eighth grade.

As Kayla is preparing to transition from middle to high school, she is thrown into many situations that are foreign to her. As she experiences pool parties, mean girls, crushes, being hit on by upperclassmen and trying to navigate a difficult relationship with her single father, Kayla feels as if her world is caving in at times. This is just another layer of this film that holds true to reality. In middle school, every little thing feels like the end of the world, this is because most 14-year-olds do not have much life experience, and therefore can not put their problems into perspective. In one scene we see Kayla having an anxiety attack in the bathroom in anticipation of walking out in front of everyone in her bathing suit. However, she conquers her fear and joins everyone at the pool. After this we see she volunteers to sing karaoke in front of the whole party and she barely breaks a sweat. Kayla is learning that, even though it feels like it sometimes, many of the petty issues us teenagers face, are not worth getting worked up about.

The audience is first introduced to Kayla through one of her YouTube videos. Kayla makes many videos throughout the film where she gives her viewers advice on complex topics like: confidence, growing up, and putting yourself out there. While on video Kayla is talking to her viewers, it’s clear that she is covering topics that she herself is struggling with, and the advice, she is really giving to herself. These YouTube videos are an amazing way to show the audience what exactly Kayla is going through, and what her thoughts are on these situations.

Written and directed by Bo Burnham, “Eighth Grade” is not just an attempt at making another relatable teen movie. The difference between this film and so many others before it is that Burnham is not on the outside looking in. Burnham is 27 years old. He grew up in the age of social media and it shows through in his film. Additionally, the characters don’t feel distant. The actors aren’t gorgeous 23-year-olds playing 16-year-olds like they are in Riverdale or 13 Reasons Why. They’re all young and realistic looking teenagers, playing teenagers. It’s refreshing.

The marketing team for “Eighth Grade” is really pulling out all the stops to get this movie out there. They have ads all over Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Clearly, they are doing their darndest to spark the attention of the age group the film covers. However, “Eighth Grade” is only playing in select theaters and on top of this, the MPAA has rated the movie R due to language. While currently, the film is hard to gain access to, I highly suggest waiting until the film is released on streaming platforms, because it really is a one of a kind film with a truthful look into our generation.