“Hey,” says the movie, “let’s all go back in time to our adolescence, when our skin resembled pizza bathed in grease and battered with a meat hammer, and everything we liked actually in retrospect really, really sucks, and social interaction felt as risky as giving yourself a half dozen paper cuts and sticking your limbs into piranha infested waters.” “Fuck you,” says the audience, though if “the movie” is Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, I suggest you hear it out. Eighth Grade reads as one of those backward glancing nostalgia fests yearning for a garbage period of human life, being pubescence in the worst stretch of the American education system, but Burnham, a precious boy with a good eye and a better storytelling sensibility, understands that eighth grade, much like war, is hell in the minds of most. So he makes it semi-hellish. Eighth Grade is uncomfortable and unflattering, and also warm to a fault and often awkwardly hilarious; see it for Burnham, and most of all see it for his lead, Elsie Fisher, whose natural talent for acting totally clashes (in a good way) with how honestly she articulates social clumsiness on screen.
I could go on but then you’d have no reason to go read my review for Paste Magazine, and I seriously cannot have that.