Eighth Grade—Navigating Middle School Without Filters

Eighth-Grade-movie-2018

“A lot can happen over a year, you could come back next fall as a completely normal person.” — Molly Ringwald to Anthony Michael Hall, “Sixteen Candles” 1984.

If you missed Eighth Grade at Cinetopia, it’s finally officially playing this week at The State! Eighth Grade is this generation’s Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, and Welcome To The Dollhouse. If you’ve wondered what adolescence in the digital age is like, this movie’s strength is capturing Generation Z middle school life—while remaining universal.

Elsie Fisher plays eighth grader Kayla and it’s through her eyes that we relive eighth grade with raw intensity. Director Bo Burnham allows his character to look exactly like a real eighth grader; there are no kids who look like they’ve sprung from the Disney channel. Kayla is allowed to have acne, slouching shoulders, and baby fat. All of this is in perfect juxtaposition to a society that happily embraces staged Internet-filtered lives.eight-grade-trailer

When we first meet Kayla she’s taping her vlog (YouTube video journals), bravely giving advice to kids her own age on “how to be yourself.” Kayla is very shy and, though she seems to come alive when making a video, her speech is still nervous, stilted, and packed with ummmms, likes, and you knows. At this age kids seek advice from their peers, and it’s now easier to only look to peers when you throw in social media. They are trying desperately to break from their parents. We all had our way of disconnecting. For those who grew up pre-internet, plugging in your headphones was one way to disengage. For kids in 2018, it’s the Internet. Now mean girls are mean by intentionally ignoring you while staring into their phones.eighthGrade_laptop

Kayla has a dad that really loves her, and it soon becomes obvious her dad is parenting alone. Dads can feel very uncertain about what to do with daughters and how to talk to them. This stage in their daughters’ lives can make them feel like they are walking on eggshells. Kayla’s dad is no exception, and his anxiety unintentionally feeds hers.EighthGrade_2

When Kayla goes to bed at night, she pulls out her phone and browses social media as an act of tuning out the world. She sees a digitized reality no real human can compete with. Using the light of the phone screen in the dark to reflect Kayla’s face is a stroke of genius. This is a perfect depiction of vulnerable kids barraged with images of fake reality. Scenes like this underline how harrowing every moment of adolescence can feel, and have us rooting for Kayla every step of the way. Kayla’s hopes and dreams for herself boil down to what we all hoped for year after year in Jr. high and high school – that the next school year holds the promise we might reinvent ourselves, or blossom into the well adjusted, less awkward person we hope to be.

I highly recommend this film and hope parents will see it, and then see it with their kid. Rated R for brief sexual content.

Eighth Grade is playing all week at The State—check their website for times and tickets. http://www.michtheater.org/show/eighth-grade/

Trending

JUNGLEFOWL’S New EP ‘Secret Society’ (INTERVIEW)

The first time I heard JUNGLEFOWL, they knocked me out of my chair. It was 2015 and Melissa Coppola had sent me the tracks that would eventually be released as the debut EP for her new band with guitarist Stefan Carr–a power duo! But a power duo that I couldn’t place, in the best way–it

Doogatron Release Debut Album

Doogatron are inventive disciples of techno and house, creating textured synth-prog jams that blend machine-like precision with the human touch of improvisation. These 21st century torchbearers of Detroit’s electronic music fuse the old-school analog synthesizers with new-school digital technology. Their debut album comes out November 2nd… Doogatron Album Release Nov 2nd @ Ziggy’s with Jason Hogans (aka brownstudy) Sleezy

“All The Fragile Pretty Things…” Listening To The New Album by Little Traps

Little Traps might trick you. The intonation of acoustic guitars, sanguine pedal steel, brushy drums and tender vocalizations will bring you in close, make you sit down cross legged and ready yourself for the understated swoon of endorphins typically triggered by “folk music.” And you lean in closer…, a bit closer still. And those lyrics hit

Muse Atelier Vintage At 336 S. Ashley In Ann Arbor

Muse Atelier Vintage, a boutique featuring unique clothing items, accessories, and original artwork, is now open at 336 S. Ashley in Ann Arbor.