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Movie Review: Eighth Grade

Will Eikenbary, A&E Editor

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Graphic by Jane Knudsen

 

Almost anyone I’ve ever met can relate to the struggles and general awkwardness associated with the pre-pubescent stomping grounds of middle school. In Bo Burnham’s debut film, Eighth Grade, all of these struggles are brought to light in a way that’s entertaining, hilarious, and at some points heart-wrenching in a fantastic modern take on the coming-of-age genre. The film follows Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) at the beginning of her last week of 8th grade, before she starts high school. Living alone with her father (Josh Hamilton), Kayla attempts to branch out and make friends in a world that’s all too similar to the middle school we all remember.

First things first, this is one of my favorite films so far this year. The cast is astounding, including a fantastic lead that you really feel for throughout the film, and there wasn’t anyone that stood out to me as having a lackluster performance. Elsie and Josh’s interactions really make you feel like you’re watching a father-daughter conversation – dad jokes included. Something I found impressive about the casting was that all of the child characters were portrayed by kids of a similar age to what they play in the movie. A lot of high-school dramas fall victim to casting young-adult actors to play teenagers, and while that can work well in some occasions, Eighth Grade’s actors make the film feel much more realistic than if older actors were to play the same characters.

Another notable quality to this film is how well the soundtrack blends with what you’re watching, which is one of the best aspects of the film in my opinion. All of the music played feels like it’s perfect for the scene that it’s in, and I’d highly suggest listening to it – even if you have no intention of seeing the movie itself. The tenser parts of the movie have louder music than other scenes, which really helps show the anxiety that Kayla is going through in that moment. Additionally, the scenes where Kayla first goes to the high school have some of the best scores of the movie, and perfectly capture the sense of wonder and anxiety she experiences at the same time. If you enjoyed the style of music shown in the trailer, you’ll definitely enjoy it in the movie.

Although I loved the movie, there are a few things I didn’t like. For instance, some of the lines felt a little forced but that also helped reinforce the idea of it being a period piece for the late 2010’s. As for the editing, it wasn’t anything special but it worked for the style that Eighth Grade was going for.

Overall, Eighth Grade is an impressive first film from Bo Burnham, and a great homage to middle school, adolescence, and growing up as a kid today. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d highly recommend it for all ages, especially anyone making the transition from middle to high school themselves. You definitely won’t regret it.

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About the Writer
Will Eikenbary, A&E Editor

Hi my name is Will Eikenbary! I am the Arts & Entertainment Editor for Westside Wired this year. I am currently a sophomore and this is my second year...

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