EIGHT GRADE (director: Bo Burnham; cinematographer: Andrew Wehde; editor: Jennifer Lilly; music: Anna Meredith; cast: Elsie Fisher (Kayla), Catherine Oliviere(Kennedy), Luke Prael (Aiden), Josh Hamilton (Mark Day), Emily Robinson (Olivia), Daniel Zolghadri (Riley), Jake Ryan (Gabe), Fred Hechinger (Trevor), Imani Lewis (Aniyah); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Eli Bush/Scott Rudin/Lila Yacoub/Christopher Storer; A24; 2018)
“Brings back for me in a good way the unwanted memories I have of the eight grade, something I’m still trying to forget without resorting to therapy.“ Reviewed by Dennis SchwartzThe 27-year-old writer-director, known as that comedian and music man from YouTube, Bo Burnham, makes his debut as a feature film director a memorable one. The nostalgic school drama, filmed like a documentary, brings back for me in a good way the unwanted memories I have of the eight grade, something I’m still trying to forget without resorting to therapy. The film tells us about the wonderful stringy-haired blonde eighth grader, the 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher, voice of Agnes in the “Despicable Me” movies), who in her need to be perceived by her classmates as cool brushes them off with silence. She thinks this act will fool them. Instead she’s depicted as the “Most Silent” in the yearbook. In her spare time Kayla signs onto YouTube with the catchphrase Gucci, making self-help confidence videos that are largely unseen. It plays out as a nonjudgmental fun piece on teen social awkwardness, showing the filmmaker can relate to the failings of his diva wannabe heroine. The highlight scene has Kayla invited to a status pool party thrown by the popular classmate Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere). There the never kissed before Kayla is confronted by the school pretty boy, someone she has a secret crush on, Aiden (Luke Prael), who abruptly asks if she’s into blow jobs. Without being familiar with that term, she nods yes before looking up its meaning on You Tube. It’s a clever and likable little film about Millennial fears and the new smart phone generation, more into Techie things than real people. Even though I’m no big fan of past school day pics, this one was passably clever and above average pleasant.Josh Hamilton is good at playing Kayla’s supportive dad. Elsie Fisher is super as the twisted adolescent we can relate to. Emily Robinson wonderfully plays the high school role model Kayla can relate to.
REVIEWED ON 8/12/2018 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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