8 Reasons to Love A24’s “Eighth Grade”

For starters, the two people writing this article probably could not be more different when it comes to their taste in movies. Maeve likes Disney and everything under the umbrella: Pixar, Princesses, Marvel, Star Wars (yes, even the prequels) and that’s about it. Emma is artsy, appreciative, and actually cultured in the cinematic universe.   

Even worse, Maeve does not like suggestions and is stubborn on her own narrow taste. But if there WAS one person to give a good rec, it’s Emma. She suggested "Eighth Grade" (“directed by Bo Burnham,” she says as if Maeve knows or cares about who that is??), a 2018 film from A24. If you’ve been paying attention, which we know you all have, you’ll remember that HCCU loves A24 and wrote a fire review on Waves.  

Here’s a quick synopsis from Wikipedia to get you hooked: "Kayla, a middle school teenager who struggles with anxiety but strives to gain social acceptance from her peers on their final week of eighth grade. To cope, she publishes video blogs as a self-styled motivational advice-giver, though spends much of her time obsessing over social media. This frustrates Kayla's otherwise supportive father, whom she alienates despite his wish to be present in her life as her sole parent." 

  1. 1. It’s okay to have pool party anxiety. 

    7th-grade end-of-year pool party that I didn’t feel cool enough to attend? You BETCHA. Kayla (Elsie Fisher) shows off that uncomfortable, arms-crossed-over-your-swimsuit walk to the pool where somehow everyone is having more fun than you in a way that you can’t help but relate to. Maybe you’re an all-star swimmer or have a great new two-piece to sport, but there are times when we all walk into an uncomfortable situation with self-doubt already engrained. Find the confidence Kayla did and dive in.  

  2. 2. Your younger self believed in you, why shouldn’t current you?

    When Kayla opens a time capsule from sixth grade only to be disappointed in who she turned out to be, you can’t help but feel the sadness too. When are there not times when we think, "is this really me? Did I turn out this way?" But there’s a quote we’ve always liked: “There was a day when you wished for the things you have now.” Maybe, like Kayla, you didn’t have a boyfriend by eighth grade or weren’t ‘the coolest girl in the world,’ but there are so many other things that you hadn’t even planned for that would make sixth grade you very proud.

  3. 3. Kayla has a Hamilton calendar in her room.

    Okay, this was solely a Maeve observation that made her way too happy. Theatre nerds, unite!   

  4. 4. Middle schoolers are bratty, but phones are destructive.

    You’ve heard of the ‘Terribles 2s,’ but what about the ‘Evil 8th Grader Who Won’t Get Off Their Phone at the Dinner Table?’ Kayla having headphones in at dinner with her dad makes you want to scream at the movie, but can’t we all admit we are a little guilty of being on our phones when we shouldn’t be? 

  5. 5. Talk about screen time!

    The amount of time Kayla spent on her phone was alarming. High amounts of screen time often leads to social media anxiety and low self-esteem, something Kayla succumbed to quickly. Forming the bad habit of endlessly scrolling before bed can be as unhealthy of a habit as eating chocolate right before bedtime (thanks, Mom). 

  6. 6. It may take a while to get off the “rollercoaster.”  

    For those without anxiety like Kayla, it may be frustrating to watch as she struggles to talk to friends, can’t find the right words for her vlogs, and gets lost in her phone constantly. Her quote sums it up perfectly, “It’s like I’m waiting in line for like a roller coaster and that stupid like butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling you get. I get that all the time. And then I never get the feeling after you ride the roller coaster.” The movie encapsulates Kayla fighting against that feeling, long after the fun rush of a roller coaster wears off. There will be days, where you can confidently walk up to a karaoke machine or tell off the bullies at school, but others where you want to throw your phone across the room and stay in bed. The experience of anxiety is not linear, and both days are valid. 

  7. 7. You’ll find your people, even with a few bumps along the way.

    When you find out that the friends you thought were cool are actually not cool? Yeah, we’ve been there. When somehow people from your middle and high school are still hanging out long after graduation and you wonder how they found their group so early? We feel it all the time. Your people will find you, and you will find them. It may not be in eighth grade, or even ninth or tenth. Best of all, friends will come from the most unexpected places and unexpected people. In our opinion, those are your people.   

  8. 8. It’s free on Amazon Prime!

    What more of a reason do you need?

For those of you who find yourself scrolling for hours every night, wanting to put yourself out there more, or working through a rock relationship with your parents, this is the perfect way to transport you back into your middle school self (and see how far you’ve come!).