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Eighth Grade (2018)

Jake Lipson

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Title: Eighth Grade

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Director: Bo Burnham

Cast: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Daniel Zolghadri, Frank Deal, Greg Crowe, Emily Robinson, Phoebe Amirault, Natalie Carter, Jake Ryan, Jalesia Martinez, Catherine Oliviere, Luke Prael, Deborah Unger, Marguerite Stimpson, Kevin R. Free, Veronica Bikowicz, Faith Kelly, Castor Feinberg, Andrew Geher, Blair Seaman, Molly Forman, Vivek Nickolas Mathews, Tristan Wheeler, Kylie Seaman, Dylan Vonderhorst, Luke Mulligan, Olivia Galligan, Louisa Rose Guarasci, Kendall Seaman, Nina Victoria Mathews, Brenna Parker, Kaileen Quinones, V. Rocco Russell, William Koo, Courtney Gonzalez

Release: 2018-07-13

Runtime: 94

Plot: Thirteen-year-old Kayla 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 — before she begins high school.

 

Jake Lipson

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I saw Eighth Grade this afternoon, and...wow.

Elise Fisher is Kayla, who at the start of the movie is entering her final week of eighth grade. That's basically the plot of the entire movie, as we follow her final week before graduating. You wouldn't think that would be a great movie plot, but you would be wrong. I wanted to reach out and give her a big hug for basically the whole movie. The movie really makes you feel her pain.

It's very specific to today, with YouTube and Twitter and Instigram and Snapchat and all the social media things I didn't have when I was in eighth grade because they didn't exist yet, but somehow the fact that it is so specific makes it transcend the time and be universal.

The whole movie is the one week, and then that's the end of it, but you totally feel why her problems are so big for her at that time, even though it's only a week in time and nothing particularly remarkable happens plot-wise.

Elise Fisher has voiced one of the kids in the Despicable Me movies, but I had to look her up to realize that, and I've never actually seen a live-action performance from her before. She is amazing. If the Oscars were tomorrow, I would hand her the Best Actress trophy hands down. She won't get it, since the movie is too small and the Academy won't think the struggles of a 14-year-old are important enough to recognize, but she should.

It's lean and mean in 94 minutes and there's no fat on it anywhere. Bo Burnham knows exactly the story he wants to tell and he knows exactly how to tell it in the most achingly real fashion.

The only real nitpick that I have isn't the movie's fault at all, and that is that the trailer includes scenes from pretty much everywhere in the film; it's almost a 2-minute cut of the film which displays the entire arc, including her final monologue at the end of the movie. The film is still great, but I've seen the trailer probably every time I've been to the movies in the last month, including at the big Cinemark theater which isn't even booking the film. Seeing so much of the film that often before actually seeing it meant that I knew where it was going before it got there a lot of the time, and I wish they hadn't felt the need to give so much of it away, especially in a film that isn't very plot-heavy at all.

The movie itself cannot be faulted for that, and I get that the studio wants to get butts in seats for a movie that is a complete original and not based on anything, so they think they have to show a lot in the trailer to get you to come. But I would have come anyway based on the great reviews and word of mouth even if the trailer had shown less.

Still...this is fantastic. I loved it so so so much, and it deserves to be a smash hit.

I went to the 5:30 showing, which was decently attended but not full. Fortunately, there was a gigantic line to get in for the next one at 7:45 when I got out.

Unfortunately, because the movie includes some sexual material, the MPAA has seen fit to slap this with an R rating. I think that is really unfortunate because honestly everyone who is currently going through eighth grade should be taken to see this by the busload. It's so accurate to the feelings of that time period and its message is so important. But the R rating will prevent the people who most need it from being able to find it, because the ratings board would like to pretend that 14-year-olds aren't aware of what sex is. But we don't live in Pleasantville, and neither does the movie. I hope parents will decide to let their kids watch this anyway. I don't, but if I had kids in middle school, I would let them. There's no reason at all this shouldn't be a PG-13.

But the movie is sensational. You all should go see it as soon as it opens near you...preferably without watching the trailer first, if you are lucky enough to avoid it.
 

Jake Lipson

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Box Office Mojo says the movie is adding 922 new theaters on Friday for its wide release, bringing the total theater count to 1,080. Hopefully this should be good enough to get it out near most of you who don't have it yet.

Also, Broadway.com will have Elise Fisher as a guest tomorrow (August 2) on their show Live at Five, which is streamed live at 5pm New York time (hence the title) on their Facebook page.

Edit: The Broadway.com interview is happening now, but it's actually with Bo Burnham (the writer-director) rather than Elise Fisher If you're reading this post later want to play it back after it happened, you can find a podcast version of it by searching #LIveAtFive in iTunes.
 
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Mark Booth

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We caught a showing in an indie theater today. Elsie Fisher was terrific and the film deserves the rave reviews it is getting just for her performance alone. I hope the Academy remembers her performance in December.

That said, I have somewhat mixed feelings about the film. I was expecting it to be funnier. Yes, there were some chuckles but not once did I have a good belly laugh. The film *did* suck me in and easily held my attention, but it was *so* realistic (thanks in great part to Fisher's performance) that I also found myself feeling slightly uncomfortable. To some degree, it felt like I didn't have any business knowing that much about her life. That's why I think I needed more laughs so I wouldn't feel slightly creeped out that I was watching.

I have no idea if other people will have the same reaction. My wife didn't.

The Booth Bijou gives 'Eighth Grade' 3.5 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to like it enough to give it at least 4 stars but it simply didn't contain enough humor. "Coming of age" films should be funny.

Mark
 
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Chris Will

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I saw this last night and my review is basically a carbon copy of Mark’s, even down to feeling slightly uncomfortable.


Also, I’m not quite sure I think this film is so ground breaking that the rating should be ignored. It’s a good film but, nothing I’d ever let my 11 year old daughter watch right now. Maybe in a few more years but, even then I’m not sure. Yes, she may hear worse at school by that age and be exposed to sexual situation as well but, I’m also not sure I want her possible first exposer to be from a movie.
 

WillG

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Also, I’m not quite sure I think this film is so ground breaking that the rating should be ignored. It’s a good film but, nothing I’d ever let my 11 year old daughter watch right now. Maybe in a few more years but, even then I’m not sure. Yes, she may hear worse at school by that age and be exposed to sexual situation as well but, I’m also not sure I want her possible first exposer to be from a movie.

I haven’t seen this movie, but I’m already thinking along the same lines. They’re hyping this movie up to be so authentic and important that free screenings are being offered, and theater chains are willing to ignore the R rating (I hope some kid goes to a multiplex showing this and tries to buy a ticket to another R rated movie, get turned down and then demand an explanation of the difference). Sounds pretentious.

This kind of reminds me of when “Thirteen” came out and it got similar hype. Part of the hype was based on the fact that an actual teen helped write it, so it must have been totally authentic. I ended up watching it and it was 90 minutes of two girls being mildly rebellious. It was tamer than some of the ABC After School specials.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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What this comes down to is that the ratings system isn't terribly good at context. What's age appropriate in one context might not be age appropriate in another context. And what one 13-year-old is ready for might not be what another 13-year-old is ready for.
 
Movie information in first post provided by The Movie Database

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