One of the breakout hits from the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in January was the coming-of-age comedy Eighth Grade. Marking the directorial debut of YouTube star-turned-professional comedian Bo Burnham, the film throws us right into the middle of the final week of the last year of middle school for Kayla Day (played spectacularly by Elsie Fisher). What unfolds, as you’ll see in the first Eighth Grade trailer, are all the trials and tribulations that come with the hormones, embarrassment and awkwardness that we’ve probably all desperately tried to forget.
Watch the Eighth Grade Trailer
This movie is a damn delight. Not only is it charming as hell, but it’s also downright hilarious. As I noted in my review from Sundance earlier this year, “Burnham just perfectly understands life as a Millennial teen, and the script feels like it was lifted from the conversations of real teens somewhere in the United States.”
But the real star here is Elsie Fisher, a young actress who actually shot this movie during the summer between her own transition from eighth grade to high school. But her performance isn’t as simple as merely being a teenage girl. She taps into the authenticity of being terrified but putting on faux comfort as she hangs out with some new high school friends. She spouts off mouthfuls of diatribes on YouTube with all the “likes” and “or whatevers” that we roll our eyes at. And she does it so naturally and effortlessly.
This is one of those summer indies that you’ll want to go out of your way to see in between all the blockbuster noise on the big screen. It’ll take you back to a time when you had all the acne and awkwardness that no one ever asked for, but it’ll make you love it somehow.
Here’s the official synopsis for Eighth Grade from the Sundance Film Festival:
Eighth-grader Kayla Day always has her phone in hand, hoping to find connections online that might make up for those she’s unable to forge in everyday life. She makes YouTube videos aimed at other adolescents dealing with similar issues—feelings of isolation, anxiety, and invisibility—but after so easily summoning this wisdom and confidence when addressing her (barely existent) audience, Kayla finds it paralyzingly difficult to apply in real situations. In the final week of a thus-far-disastrous school year—and with high school looming on the horizon—Kayla struggles to bridge the gap between how she perceives herself and who she believes she should be.
Eighth Grade hits theaters this summer on July 13, 2018.
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