First Hit: Outstanding acting and script gives us an insightful view of what it is like to be in the Eighth Grade today.
I cannot express the wonderful way Elsie Fisher (Kayla) expressed the insecurity and desire to be a confident eighth grader.
The film drops in on Kayla while she makes videos that give the audience the belief that she’s confident and very secure in herself. The fact is that her videos represents what she wants to be, not who she is.
She lives with her dad Mark Day (Josh Hamilton). He’s trying to be both mother and father to Kayla and he does the best he can. Their interaction is very genuine in that there is an awkwardness that it palpable, and also ensconced in love.
When Kayla unexpectedly gets invited to a pool party at the most popular girl’s house, her awkwardness and vulnerability were perfectly expressed. Loved her interaction with Gabe (Jake Ryan) and her dream love Riley (Daniel Zolghadri).
Her eighth-grade class goes to high school to spend a day with a shadow high schooler. She prays in bed the night before that she really wants the day to go well. Her prayers are answered, she’s linked with Olivia (Emily Robinson). Olivia likes her and shows her genuine friendship. For the first time, it seems as though she has a real friend that sees and accepts her as she is.
There is a wonderfully sweet scene with her father as she burns a box of memories in the back yard. There is a corresponding sweet scene as she makes a box of memories for her future self.
Fisher is absolutely amazing. She was the perfect confused, self-questioning, eighth grader. Hamilton is wonderful as her dad. He’s appropriately unsure of how to respond and guide an eighth-grade girl. Zolghadri is very strong as the cute guy in the class who expects girls to like him. Ryan is very funny as the awkward young man who has some interest in Kayla. Robinson is great as the girl who was maybe once like Kayla but, in high-school, found her group. Bo Burnham wrote and directed this film. His ability to write this dialogue for a girl is to be commended. His direction was spot on and provided a glimpse into today’s young girls.
Overall: This was a wonderfully developed and executed film.