Eighth Grade

Newcomer Elsie Fisher makes her way through the last week of a disastrous eighth grade year in comedian Bo Burnham's feature debut as director.

"Eighth-grader Kayla Day (Fisher) always has her phone in hand, hoping to find connections online that might make up for those she’s unable to forge in everyday life. She makes YouTube videos aimed at other adolescents dealing with similar issues—feelings of isolation, anxiety, and invisibility—but after so easily summoning this wisdom and confidence when addressing her (barely existent) audience, Kayla finds it paralysingly difficult to apply in real situations. In the final week of a thus-far-disastrous school year—and with high school looming on the horizon—Kayla struggles to bridge the gap between how she perceives herself and who she believes she should be." (Sundance Film Festival)


Directed by

Written by

Comedy, Drama


Rating: M Offensive language & sexual references


Eighth Grade follows 13-year-old Kayla as she navigates the social pitfalls of her last week in middle school. Shy, awkward, a bit pimply and totally neurotic, Kayla is a queasily real portrait of life as a member of Generation Z.

Too shy to talk to her classmates and embarrassed by her single father’s attempts to connect, she instead expresses herself primarily via the online void: dispensing baseless advice on her YouTube channel; leaving sweet but inane comments on stranger’s Instagram posts; researching sex acts through nightmarish wiki-hows.

Written and directed by 28-year-old former YouTube star Bo Burnham and starring truly incredible newcomer Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade has an extremely firm grasp on its subject matter—and it shows.

Keenly aware of the way young people (and really all people) are increasingly consumed with the full-time job of self-improvement, Burnham plunges us into Kayla’s state of constant, breathless anxiety. More than happiness, what Kayla wants is to succeed at living the life she pretends to on the internet—a pursuit that only exposes the alienation and cruel individualism that seems to characterise life in the digital age.

With an almost documentary-like realist aesthetic and equal parts comedy and tragedy, how you feel about Eighth Grade’s squirm-inducing verisimilitude could go either way, and even within our small screening reactions varied wildly.

Several people found it laugh out loud funny. My plus-one thought it was boring. I spent the first half in a state of excruciating discomfort, cried all the way through the second and then left with a stress headache.

Though I wouldn’t say I exactly enjoyed this ordeal, Eighth Grade’s take on modern early adolescence is stunning—not only for its cringey honesty and spot-on contemporary specificity, but for the way neither of those things prevent it from being gut-wrenchingly familiar and relatable to anyone who has ever been sad or awkward or a teenager. 



Nevertheless, thanks to a wonderfully sensitive and bold performance from [Elise] Fisher and some standout work from Burnham behind the camera, Eighth Grade is ultimately an effective-if not exactly revelatory-watch.

Hollywood Reporter


The kind of comedy that hipper parents might just be able to watch with their own offspring and enjoy.

Screen International


It might be easy to laugh at Kayla, but Burnham and Fisher endow her with so much pathos that audiences are more likely to feel sympathy.

TimeOut (New York)


Eighth Grade is lovely work, lifted up by a timeless piece of indie wisdom: Keep it real, as cringe-inducing as that can be.

Vanity Fair


... a simultaneously harrowing and sweet look at early adolescence.

Variety (USA)


"Eighth Grade" shines as, like, a totally spot-on, you know, portrait of Millennial angst and stuff.



Burnham has tapped into a byproduct of social-media-saturated adolescence that's often overlooked in favour of parental panic and worst-case-scenario horror stories.

NZ Herald (Dominic Corry)


For all Burnham's skill in making the artfully-composed film, it's Fisher who really carries all the humour and heart, delivering a stunning performance that serves as a painfully relatable avatar for everybody watching.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)


Heartwrenching, heartwarming and disquieting in equal measure, Eighth Grade is essential viewing for the parents of today's tweens.

A Coming-of-Age Landmark

As a Wellingtonian, making the two and half hour trip to Masterton to see Eighth Grade at the only theatre showing it this side of the country was more than worth it. Bo Burnham proves his chops as a writer more than a director, but the camerawork is interesting enough to stop a viewer getting visually exhausted. Elsie Fisher is leagues ahead of any of her costars, which isn't to say any supporting performances do anything less than excellent, but Fisher brings every word to life genuinely, passionately, with the kind of restraint uncommon in most actors I've seen. I can't give enough credit to the screenplay, rarely have I had a conversation with someone about a movie that strongly reminded me of the kind of dialogue within it. I'm not a girl, I'm not american, I don't attend middle school, but the main character's experience rings painfully true to mine in many ways, obvious and subtle, and I think this film will make a lot of people from my generation feel the same. A great one to watch with the parents, with the kids, with friends, but only alone if you're feeling brave. I'd give it a 9/10, but closer to an 8 than a 10.

An Essential Film For Every Living Human

Old, young or somewhere in between everyone will take something different home. Everyone of us has at one point walked in Kayla's shoes. The moments that keep us up at night, Bo Burnham has somehow converted into film. You don't want to miss this, Gucci.

Gen-Z 'Lady Bird'

Although It did not grab me as much as some coming of age films have of recent years, Eighth Grade still manages to give you the most uncomfortable, cringe worthy film experience of the year, and its not a bad thing.