Middle school: it’s the best of times, but really, it’s the worst of times. Things are happening to your body that you don’t understand, you hate your parents for often inexplicable reasons that feel right at the moment, and you’re trapped between childhood and being old enough to get your learner’s permit. Eighth is no one’s favorite grade, which is what makes it such a perfect time to set a movie.
Written and directed by Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade stars Elsie Fisher (the voice of Agnes in the Despicable Me movies) as Kayla, your typical middle school student: she’s obsessed with her phone, she’s awkward, and pool parties are her worst nightmare. (As the kid who used to wear a shirt in the pool, I can relate.) “The topic of today’s video is being yourself,” she says in the trailer above. “Being yourself can be hard. It’s like, aren’t I always being myself?”
As our own Mike Ryan noted in his Sundance review, “I don’t understand how writer-director Bo Burnham tapped into the psyche of an eighth-grade girl,” but he did by tapping into universal truths: that you’re never alone as you feel (“Just because things are happening right now,” Kayla notes, “doesn’t mean they’re always gonna happen”), and you should never stay up all night reading Instagram.
Eighth Grade opens on July 13.