Before High School Comes Enduring 'Eighth Grade': Film Review

Updated on August 30, 2018
Source

Synopsis

Adolescence isn't always an easy period of transition from childhood. In Eighth Grade, a teen girl struggles to find a sense of belonging as she deals with improving her social skills. Elsie Fisher stars as Kayla Day, a teen about to graduate from middle school. In a poll of her classmate, Kayla gets a most dubious honor - most quiet. That issue strikes a nerve in Kayla, who's been trying to address that issue in a series of vlogs almost nobody watches. She gets invited to a birthday pool party thrown by the popular Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere) only at the urging of her mother. With few exceptions, Kayla keeps to herself, but she has fun when she participates. When she speaks, she meets Kennedy's cousin Gabe (Jake Ryan), who's more friendly than the birthday girl. She even speaks a little with the popular athlete Aiden (Luke Prael), on whom she has a crush.

In the days before school ends, Kayla participates in tour of the high school where she'll attend. Her student guide is Olivia (Emily Richardson), the kind of outgoing student Kayla wishes to be. Things go so well, Olivia invites Kayla to shop and hang out with her friends at the mall. Her dad Mark (Josh Hamilton) takes her there. and even lingers there until Kayla spies him and discretely asks him to go home. While the time at the mall is fine, Kayla finds herself feeling awkward as one of Olivia's friends drives her home. A game of Truth Or Dare gets a little too personal for Kayla's tastes. She worries that this incident might affect this new friendship that she has welcomed.

Evaluation

Eighth Grade marks the feature debut as director for Bo Burnham, who also wrote the script. Burnham first made his mark in entertainment as a stand-up comic who incorporates funny songs into his act. He has also done some acting, including roles in the 2017 movies Rough Night and The Big Sick. Here, though, Burnham creates a relatable portrait of a teen and her peers taking another step in their growth. Growth is one of Burnham's themes, as the eighth graders get back the time capsules they made when they were in sixth grade. The best thing about Burnham's story is that it's often non-judgmental and open-ended. Kayla does criticize a self-absorbed classmate at one point, but she makes a valid criticism of this person. Viewers can decide for themselves whether the bonds young Day makes will last or not as she prepares for life in secondary school. The movie compares favorably to the 2017 release Lady Bird, where a young woman makes the transition from high school to college. This is a coming-of-age story told very well.

Fisher is likely best known for her voice work as youngest sibling Agnes in the first two Despicable Me movies. Here, she gives a touching and unforced performance as Kayla, who wants to show she's more than just the quiet girl in her class. However, Kayla is a lot like her peers, unable to articulate her feelings beyond a few words. Eventually, she realizes the target audience for the words she means to serve as motivation is herself. She does, to some extent, put her words into action. Hamilton is also effective as Mark, the single parent who realizes that his role as a parent is changing. He can advise and provide for Kayla, but he lets her discover the world where she's headed for adulthood. For example, he respects Kayla's wishes when she makes a decision about what she'll do with her time capsule. Richardson also does nicely as Olivia, who provides a welcoming presence when others her age might still dismiss Kayla as a little kid.

Conclusion

Eighth Grade made me think about how I felt as I made the transition from grade school to high school. That time wasn't an easy time for me as I reflected on the world of the peers I knew, and the changes that were coming as we headed to ninth grade. Technology and styles will change, but the need to adjust remains constant. Kayla Day wishes to deal with graduation and high school in a positive way, though she has no idea how to accomplish that. That's fine, because life can unfold in countless good ways, and discovering who and what matter are just parts of the process. Graduation day simply paves the way for new challenges and new rewards.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Eighth Grade 3.5 stars. Getting ready for a new phase.

Eighth Grade trailer

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Pat Mills

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)