EIGHTH GRADE Review — For the Junior High Schooler in All of Us

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EIGHTH GRADE Review — Get ready for a trip back to Jr. High, warts and all

Eighth Grade ReviewFrom the very first seconds of Eighth Grade, you know it’s a special film. It opens on the latest installment of 13-year-old Kayla’s charmingly self-conscious video blog, covering social skills like “Being Yourself,”  and “Putting Yourself Out There.” She is no slick You Tube star, her videos are purely stream of adolescent consciousness, “likes” and “ums” and “whatevers” and all, unintentionally hilarious. She has you at hello.

She then takes you to school with her, and you see how she tries to awkwardly practice what she preaches. It seldom works, but at least she (and you) feel better for trying. No matter if you had hundreds of friends in Junior Hight or none at all, whether you were an athlete, nerd, brain or drama queen,  you’ll see a little piece of yourself in Kayla, and you’ll be taken right back to your Junior High days, for better or for worse.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better ensemble of authentic performances. Elsie Fisher, whom you’ve probably never seen, but certainly have heard on the big screen as the voice of Agnes in the Despicable Me films, plays Kayla with such awkward and genuine grace you can’t help but wonder if she’s acting, or if that’s the real Elsie Fisher improvising for the camera.

You can’t help but wonder how writer/director Bo Burnham, a relative new comer who’s most prominent work before this was directing the Netflix comedy special Chris Rock: Tamborine, has so accurately nailed the experience of a female eight grader. Well, it’s a mystery, but he also managed to elicit extraordinary performances from the supporting cast. Welcome to the world of Cinematic Forces to Be Dealt With, Bo. We expect to hear a lot from you, and about this movie, come awards season.

Rated R

1 Hour 34 Minutes

If this Eighth Grade review intrigues you and you want to see the film, find times and tickets at Fandango.com.

EIGHTH GRADE Review — For the Junior High Schooler in All of Us

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and on BBC Radio.

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