HomeMoviesEighth Grade: Kids These Days

Eighth Grade: Kids These Days

Eighth Grade
Photo Credit: A24

When I was in eighth grade, the year was 2005. I used the internet almost strictly to visit Homestarrunner.com. Facebook was exclusively for college students instead of delivering propaganda to our nation’s elderly, and I was begging my parents for my first cell phone, the Motorola Razr, which was undeniably cool. I got it at graduation.

I don’t want to be the “things were simpler in my day” guy, but you know what? Things were simpler in my day. This is, I think, at the core of Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade.

The movie is a week in the life of Kayla Day, portrayed to perfection by Elsie Fisher in a (hopefully) breakout role. She’s navigating her last week of eighth grade and everything that comes with it — crushes, anxiety, trying to make new friends, a parent who “just doesn’t get it,” and more. Josh Hamilton puts in a fantastic performance as Mark Day, Kayla’s single father. I would not be surprised if he was a dark horse for a best supporting actor nomination at this year’s Academy Awards.

Burham is only two years older than me and grew up in a similar East coast town, so I feel confident in saying our experiences probably don’t deviate wildly. Maybe that’s why this movie feels so authentic (well, that and the fact that they filmed two towns over from where I grew up). Bo uses this film to explore the constant scrutiny that kids find themselves under from the perspective of someone who was at the turning point, watching phones get smarter and the social pressure get higher.

Having parents constantly looking over my shoulder was tough enough. I can’t imagine what growing up with the technical zeitgeist as it is now would be like. Kayla spends almost the entire movie browsing her phone. She’s on Instagram. She’s on Snapchat. She’s constantly inundated with photos of classmates looking happy and perfect, and strives to portray that herself. Kayla makes these advice vlogs that nobody sees despite needing that advice herself. You catch some glimpses of her photo roll, and it’s filled with selfies, each carefully crafted to wring every drop of social equity out of these platforms.

It’s easy to dismiss this motivation and the generation at large by saying “look inward for validation”, but everybody wants approval from their peers. The problem arises from the fact that we’re now all so connected that getting that approval is simultaneously easier and harder. The kids are jaded and unimpressed, but getting likes is like a hit of dopamine. So, they seek it out more and more, putting on an air of “having it all figured out” while secret anxiety plays havoc on their psyche. At the end of the day, this is what Eighth Grade hopes to explore.

There are some uncomfortable moments (one scene in particular had me feeling slightly ill), but Eighth Grade is a sweet story told simply. It may not break new ground but it is certainly enjoyable and I’m excited to see what’s next for both Bo and Elsie.

Rating: 9/10

Eighth Grade is currently playing in select theaters.

George still uses the internet mostly for Homestarruner.com, but you can also find him on twitter @Georgehef.

Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

Most Recent

Stay Connected