Eighth Grade (2018)
An introverted teenage girl tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth grade year before leaving to start high school.
In his feature film directorial debut, comedian Bo Burnham deftly encapsulates the awkwardness, angst, self-loathing and reinvention that a teenage girl goes through on the cusp of high school. Given that the 27-year-old stand-up comic achieved fame as a teenager himself through YouTube by riffing on his insecurities, he is uniquely capable as the film's writer and director to tell the story of Kayla, an anxious girl navigating the final days of her eighth grade year, despite creating a protagonist w female instead of male. Like Burnham did more than a decade ago, 13-year-old Kayla turns to YouTube to express herself, where she makes advice blogs in which she pretends to have it all together. In reality, Kayla is sullen and silent around her single father and her peers at school, carrying out most of her interactions with her classmates on Instagram and Twitter. Her YouTube videos are a clever narrative tool that provide insight into her inner hopes and dreams, much like an inspirational online diary. One of Eighth Grade's biggest triumphs is in its realism.
Kayla Day is an eighth grade student finishing her final week at a public middle school in the state of New York. She posts motivational videos on YouTube about confidence and self-image that get almost no views. Struggling to make friends at school, she wins the "Most Quiet" award from her classmates. Meanwhile, Mark, her single father, struggles to connect with her and break her reliance on social media. She is invited to a pool party hosted by a classmate, Kennedy, who has done so only after being forced by her mother. At the party, Kayla has an anxiety attack in the bathroom but eventually goes outside to swim, where she meets Gabe, Kennedy's eccentric cousin. After trying to leave the party, Kayla has an awkward encounter with her crush, Aiden, who suggests that she rejoin the group. She overcomes her fear and volunteers to sing karaoke..
- Kayla Day is an eighth-grader in her final week of middle school in White Plains, New York. She posts motivational videos on YouTube about confidence and self-image that get almost no views, while struggling at school to make friends, and winning the "Most Quiet" award from her classmates. Mark, her single father, struggles to connect with her and break her reliance on social media.
Kayla gets an invite to go to a pool party hosted by a classmate, Kennedy, who has invited her only because her mother forced her to. Kayla has an anxiety attack in the bathroom, but eventually goes outside to swim, where she meets Gabe, Kennedy's cousin. Kayla later has an awkward encounter with her crush, Aiden, who suggests that she rejoin the group. She overcomes her fear and volunteers to sing karaoke.
Kayla overhears that Aiden broke up with his last girlfriend because she refused to send him nude photos. Kayla mentions to him in passing that she has a dirty photos folder on her phone, which piques his interest. He asks if she gives blowjobs, and she says yes, not knowing what it means. She later looks it up online and, although disgusted, attempts to practice on a banana. Her dad walks in before she can try it, and calls her bluff by reminding her that she doesn't like bananas.
Kayla attends a high school shadow program, where she meets Olivia, a senior who immediately takes a liking to her. Olivia gives Kayla her number. Kayla calls her later in the day to thank her for showing her around the high school. Olivia reassures Kayla that middle school is messy and to not worry so much about what her peers think of her. She then invites her to hang out at the Palisades Center Mall with some of her friends. They have a good time, though Kayla spots Mark spying from afar and, embarrassed, tells him to leave. Olivia's friend Riley gives Kayla a ride home late at night, and he initiates an awkward game of truth or dare where he asks about her sexual experience, takes off his shirt, and asks her to remove hers. She refuses and he angrily backs off, claiming he was just trying to help her get some experience with boys. Kayla breaks down at home and is comforted by her father. She makes a video announcing that she intends to stop making videos, as she feels unfit to give advice when she is not even able to follow her own.
Kayla opens a time capsule she created for herself in sixth grade. She watches a video she made for herself, where her past self asks questions about Kayla's friends and love life. She asks her dad to help her burn the time capsule and asks if she makes him sad. He says that she fills him with pride and he could never be sad about her, which relieves her.
At graduation, Kayla rebukes Kennedy for ignoring her thank-you letter and acting indifferent towards her despite Kayla's attempts to be nice. She later hangs out at Gabe's house and they have a fun time together. Kayla makes a new time capsule which she and her father bury in the backyard; she leaves a video message for her high school self encouraging her to persevere through tough times.