Eighth Grade ★★★★★

"I'm always nervous. I could be doing nothing, and I'm still nervous. It's like that feeling before you ride a rollercoaster — that stupid butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling. Except that feeling you get after you ride the rollercoaster never comes."

Middle school is defined by a maelstrom of confusion, excitement, anxiety, cruelty, elation, self-alienation and a lack of empathy. Feelings and abstractions that the Internet excels at accelerating for us.

Bo Burnham understands that the Internet *is* middle school, where nothing is quiet and there's a premium put on belonging and every waking moment is the most important thing ever and totally fucking meaningless.

Burnham could've easily been ham-fisted with his depictions of middle school (his attention to detail during that pool party sequence, my god) and Internet culture (it never becomes some reductive "these young girls and their selfies, amirite?!" homily, thank god) but his empathy for these kids who are "wired differently" from a lifetime of being Extremely Online wouldn't allow him to be (Bo should know a thing or two about this: he was an early adopter of YouTube and Vine and obsessively documented his life). He doesn't view this generation as the "Me" Generation. He understands them as the "Please See Me" Generation. As in, "If I am not visible then you can't possibly love me. If I am not there, I am no where. I am a fucking ghost." Adolescence is already Hell and the Internet is not doing anything to help tamp out the flames.

And EIGHTH GRADE wouldn't work without a compelling central presence. Elsie Fisher nails every emotional beat with absolute precision. The silliness, the awkwardness, the timidity, the ephemeral euphoria, the despair. What a wonderfully full-fledged performance, and —dare I say — an important one too.

Go see this fucking movie.

Sidenote: what a fucking miracle it is that Bo's path from "internet stardom" bifurcated  from our traditional understanding of what that means (see: Jake Paul) and he's created his own lane as this singularly thoughtful and sensitive comedic voice.

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