An A24 film that doesn't lose track of its plot, with a strong and literary narrative. Eighth Grade is a brutally and humorously honest look how life (not just at a specific time) is a learn-as-you-go experience. Aside from Kayla, the periphery characters are mono-dimensional, only serving her character arc that doesn't necessarily stop, as much as she learns how to wade through the blows, like a boxer on tip-toes.
I'm a big fan of Bo's offbeat, observational and inventive comedy. I was sold on this movie after it was lauded as the transposition of his unique vision to the big screen... except it's not. Eighth Grade isn't funny or thought-provoking. It merely chooses a small pocket of a very specific demo, and runs with what adults think kids do. It's hard to empathize with how complete idiots and incompetent adults are.
Complaining about Eighth Grade's self-absorption kind of misses the point. We're inside Kayla's cave here (credit for obnoxious prescience, Plato), just as so many of us were inside our own at that age (the lesser cave-tech seemed plenty compelling at the time). There's nothing really "new" in EG, nor need there be. Elsie Fisher's performance and Anna Meredith's soundtrack suffice to synthesize a geek sublime.
2.5 Josh Hamilton and Elsie Fisher do great jobs in their roles, though I wish the movie had more scope. An additional plot line might have given us a wider perspective on something: Josh's job? One of the teachers? The home life of another kid? The film does adequately capture the horrors of the middle school years, and makes one glad one will never have to relive them again. Especially the "pool parties."
Portrait of the culture as a lonely eighth grader. No, dad, she might not be okay. Why does America fetishize stages of development, particularly coming-of-age in the form of adolescent (school) dramas? A product of the self-esteem movement? Individual identity, self-presentation, is paramount. Everything is curation. Call me an old fart, but I'm worried and saddened by the climate new generations step into.
My major gripe with this is all in the plotting, but Burnham understands that — as an eighth grader — cruelty is indifference and kindness is attention. Also, the pool party scene is the most horrific scene of any 2018 film.