Boy are we blessed to have the Red Bank Bow Tie movie theatre in town who endlessly show generally obscure, independent films that are just darn good.
I was anxious about seeing "Eighth Grade" being afraid it would follow the redundant template of nice 8th grader, who turns bad and then returns to the "land of good" following a bad event like "Lady Bird" last year and many more.
What struck me right off, was the realistic "awkwardness" of 8th grader.
The degree of adolescence by lead Kayla (Elsie Fisher) vs. the highly acclaimed Saoirse Ronan of "Lady Bird" was spot on. Kayla has plenty of acne, some baby fat and wears simply frumpy clothes.
She lives on her phone and does tons of self help videos where has virtually no followers/likes. Very quiet in life, these videos serve almost as motivational messages to herself. Clearly a capable and a mature young lady raised a perfectly cast Josh Hamilton as the single Dad who is also stumbling finding his way as both Mom and Dad. She makes very calm good decisions and the likelihood of her burning and crashing in High School seems remote so you are really cheering for her.
Movie occurs over the final weeks of her middle school year before graduating.
The first three quarters of the movie moves along nicely and quite believable.
Last quarter gets "heavier" but not over the top. Really no sex, few bad words and no violence.
Would be fascinating to know the impression of this film by recently graduated 8th graders but I'm not sure they would ever tell us dinosaurs…just roll their eyes and say "whatever"
A very good film