If you remember those very awkward years in middle school, when just GETTING to high school felt like it would be your life's greatest accomplishment, EIGHTH GRADE will feel achingly familiar.
Newcomer Elsie Fisher brilliantly captures all that teen angst as Kayla Day.
Kayla posts daily inspirational messages to teens on Instagram & Snapchat, filling social media with the same positive daily affirmations that poster her mirror, her walls, her life.
But in reality, she's anything but confident. Awkward, socially uncomfortable and living for the moment she's accepted in any circle, Kayla is a paralyzingly shy student.
Fisher is terrific. As the end of 8th grade awards are passed out, you can feel her hoping for a popular win and her crushing defeat as she wins "most quiet".
Kayla lives with her loving single Dad Mark, well played by Josh Hamilton (Alive, Dark Skies) in all his "how the hell do I raise a teenage girl by myself?" terror.
To say too much about Kayla's journey through her final days before high school would be to spoil the journey. First time Writer/Director, comedian Bo Burnham has created something special, telling the story without going everywhere you expect it to.
If the destination feel familiar, the path there is anything but.
The young cast is very good, with Luke Prael as heartthrob Aiden and Jake Ryan as nerdy Gabe real standouts.
The music score by newcomer Anna Meredith is hilarious, overstating moods at key times in just the right way to bust out laughs. The heart pounding electronic score that bursts on every time Kayla gets a glimpse of Aiden is laugh out loud appropriate.
It's funny, painfully awkward and sad, with Fisher creating a character so real, so brimming with self loathing and doubt, that you'll really root for her to survive EIGHTH GRADE.
An adult take on young life and an auspicious debut for Burnham, his first film graduates with an A.