Go See : Eighth Grade

BY KATIE WAGNER JACOBS

If you are a female and you were once an eighth grader, you should see this movie. If you have a middle-school aged girl in your life, you must see this movie.

Eighth Grade is an insanely realistic portrayal of what its like to be a middle school girl in today’s culture. There are so many cringe-worthy moments—you’ll be transported back to all feeling all the 13-year-old feels. Kayla, the movie’s subject, is desperately trying to fit in while still “being herself” (isn’t this every girl’s battle?!). She’s up against a lot, though. Kayla’s mother walks out when she was little; meanwhile, her father overcompensates, causing more division between them. She is naturally quiet and shy, both traits she hates about herself and is constantly trying to reverse. The result is an awkwardness that only a 13-year-old girl can generate, and oh—it’s hard to watch. On top of it all, Kayla experiences every horrifying moment of her eighth grade trauma on social media and via her vlog.

There were so many moments during this movie that I felt the feelings Kayla was experiencing during the movie—quite literally. I don’t know about you, but my middle school experience was full of blatant insecurity and desperation to belong. 

Eighth Grade

Kayla’s vlogs (which provide an outline for the events that occur over the course of the movie), cover the topics she struggles with like “Putting Yourself Out There” which are obviously a clear cry for help and attempt for security. These scenes are equally sad and hilarious: I found myself squirming in my seat and laughing out loud over and over again, probably because watching Kayla felt like watching my own 13-year-old self at many points during the film. The universal experience of being a middle school girl is so perfectly captured—you’ll feel it too!

One of the major themes of the movie is the impact of social media on kids during their middle school years. Many parents who go to see this movie will probably think “not my child” when they see how reliant upon and defined by social media that Kayla truly is. I would argue, though, that Bo Burnham (the director of the movie), hits the nail on the head when it comes to the totally dominant position that social media has taken in the lives of young people, girls especially. Kayla sees the world through the lens of her social media accounts, and it is alarmingly clear that the impact of it only makes her all the more insecure and lonely. This was the part of the movie that left me feeling both sad and empowered. Sad because I can’t imagine what dealing with social media feels like on top of getting through the notorious middle school years, and empowered because I feel like I have a better picture of what the social media issue means for the “Kaylas” in my life. This movie made me understand just how different life is for kids these days.  

While Eighth Grade focuses on a modern day middle school girl, any woman who has lived through the experience of growing up will be able to relate and empathize with Kayla. This isn’t an action-packed movie; actually, there really isn’t much of a plot. The movie is more of a compilation of classic traumatic middle school experiences: embarrassing vlogs (think: an embarrassing diary made public!), a pool party, sex-ed, and the perils of making new friends. I loved how the movie wraps up. Without giving too much away, I’ll just tell you this: Kayla finds her way though her middle school years the same way a lot of us do. She grows up a little, lets love in, and finally begins to accept herself for who she really is. Your middle-school self will rejoice!

Note for Parents: This movie is rated R for sexual themes and content. If you’re considering taking a middle school girl in your life, I would highly recommend seeing it alone first to be sure you’re comfortable exposing her to what’s in the movie!

Review by Katie Wagner Jacobs the Barefoot Blonde Contributor Program Film & Book Reviewer.
Do you have a book or film you want Katie to review?
Leave your recommendations in the comments. 

 

Meet Katie

Katie Wagner Jacobs specializes in copywriting and editorial work. She reviews books, movies, and other media for several publications in addition to running her writing business, K. Jacobs Writes. Her past clients include popular bloggers, artists, influencers, and businesses. She believes that in our content saturated world, it is now more important than ever to present high quality, on-brand writing. Katie works to first to gain a deep understanding of a brand, and then to cultivate a voice in a way that comes across powerfully to its audience.

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Katie Wagner Jacobs

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  1. Great review! I love reading reviews on books/films. A review on The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah would be awesome

  2. Such great thoughts on the movie and book! I just finished “The Nightingale” and would love to hear your thoughts!

  3. I love this new series on film and book reviews! So needed and appreciated 🙂 I would love to see more reviews on popular books as well as some off the beaten path. I will definitely be checking back in soon to see what’s next!