A new film is being heralded by critics for capturing the crushing awkwardness of middle school, in all its marker-sniffing, eyelid-flipping glory.
Eighth Grade, the debut feature film by 27-year-old comedian Bo Burnham, has dominated the festival circuit this year, playing to rave reviews at both Sundance and SXSW. The official trailer for the film was released yesterday (March 14), showing off what Indiewire called “as close to the modern coming-of-age experience as currently seems possible.”
The trailer is filled with perfectly cringeworthy details of early adolescence—from playing with orthodontic rubber bands to surviving dreaded pool parties.
Based on an original script by Burnham, Eighth Grade follows 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she endures “the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence during her last week of middle school.” The film was picked up by rising indie distributor A24, which also released last year’s Lady Bird, another coming-of-age movie about life in suburbia.
While Eighth Grade promises to be universal to anyone who made it through that uncomfortable age, it also should appeal specifically to modern teens (and tweens) who haven’t yet seen their generation fully depicted on film.
The trailer shows Kayla using essentially every popular social media app popular among today’s teenagers, including Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. In her journal, Kayla writes that one way to get more friends is to “leave nice comments on people’s Instagrams.” A woman in a sex ed video is seen saying, “It’s gonna be lit!” A teacher dabs in the background. Kayla signs off a video on her YouTube channel with, “Gucci!”
These are all things that couldn’t have appeared in a movie about adolescence 10 years ago. (It also looks like there’s a scene involving an active shooter drill—another unfortunate reality of American children that wasn’t necessary a decade ago.)
Eighth Grade currently boasts a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 27 reviews. (Lady Bird, now at 99%, also had a 100% score for awhile.) If the previous comedic work of Burnham—an annoyingly talented millennial—is any indication, the film should live up to that hype. It will be released July 13 in the US.