“8th Grade” Movie Review: Every Parent of a Tween Should Watch It

By Seth Woolcock

Ever wonder what it’s like to be an eighth grader in today’s world?
Let Bo Burnham show you. Usually known for his comedy and music, Burnham explores the crazy world of junior high in his 2018 film “Eighth Grade.”

Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) is just like any 13-year-old girl today. She’s self-conscious, lives on social media and strives to be a YouTube blogger – which means she gives kids her age her advice. But off camera, Kayla is crippled with anxiety. She can’t take any chances. The movie follows her through the ups and downs of her last week of classes in the eighth grade.

Kayla’s dad (Josh Hamilton) may be a lot like you. He’s a single parent who loves his kid and would do anything for her, but often finds himself out of touch with his daughter. He believes she lives in a world where people are more disconnected from each other than ever before. Throughout “Eighth Grade” Burnham paints a picture of eighth grade as it is TODAY for American teenagers.

So, I’m a guy in my early twenties – much closer to that age range than you, probably – and I can tell you the accuracy of the movie is unreal.  It has a lot of good messages for both parents and teens. But through conversations with others, I’ve been surprised by how many grown-ups don’t know half the stuff in this movie.  School-shooting drills, Instagram, “finstas”, and Steph Curry jerseys, a lot has changed since you’ve been in middle school. I think it has good information for any parent today, and it provides it wrapped in good story-telling.

The movie talks about (shows) themes like being yourself, putting yourself out there, discovering confidence and growing up – all things every teen/tween deals with, but they are a different challenge in today’s 24/7, hyper-connected world.

Fortunately, “Eighth Grade” also reminds us that things do get better. At a high school shadowing program, Kayla meets Olivia (Emily Robinson), who becomes the first person to really put her arms around Kayla. It foreshadows that high school might just be a bit better for Kayla.

Maybe ironically, I found the music in the movie really worked for me (you’ll hear what I mean when you watch it.) With a run time of only an hour and 24 minutes, and a 99 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie really is a must-watch, especially if you are a parent of a teen or tween today.

“Eighth Grade” is available to steam for free on Amazon Video if you are an Amazon Prime account holder. It’s also available for rental in the iTunes and Google Play store.

Links to other movie reviews of “8th Grade”:

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/eighth_grade

“8th Grade” the movie by Bo Burnham

New York Times movie review of “8th Grade”

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