Director: Bo Burnham
MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 93 Minutes
Purchase: Amazon [affiliate link]
This product was provided by Lionsgate for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own, score is based on the product as a whole, not the film itself.
One of the funniest and most awkwardly authentic coming-of-age films I’ve seen in recent memory is Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, whose Blu-ray is hitting shelves this week. With a breakout performance from Elsie Fisher, it’s a brilliant film that any introvert, such as myself, can relate to, regardless of gender.
Fisher plays Kayla, a shy teenager completing eighth grade and preparing herself to head into high school. Like most teens these days, she lives her life on social media, making Youtube videos and desperately trying to make herself heard, break out of her introverted shell and get noticed.
Burnham’s attention to detail and the subtle, nuanced approach to the comedy in Eighth Grade is what makes it shine and feel like a truly authentic middle-school experience, which is arguably the most awkward time in one’s life. Though it’s been many years since I’ve been in eighth grade and, thankfully, most of the painfully embarrassing wounds have healed, not much has changed, and watching this makes all those memories come flooding back, something I can now think about in retrospect and laugh at but be glad that I’m no longer living through the hell of adolescence.
The entire weight of the film is firmly planted on Fisher’s performance, which she knocks out of the park, nailing each nervous mannerism and stutter with precision and realism. That isn’t to say the supporting cast doesn’t pull its weight though, as all the child actors are fantastic, as well as Josh Hamilton, who excels as Kayla’s dad.
In terms of bonus supplements on the disc, there’s a decent making-of featurette with interviews from the cast and crew, a few deleted scenes, an audio commentary track from director Bo Burnham, a music video, and the trailers. While this is a passable amount of bonus material, it would have been nice to see more: perhaps a deeper interview with Burnham and Fisher or some of Burnham’s earlier work as a Youtube creator to showcase his own awkward adolescence as a young social media star.
Still, until a more feature-packed version is made available, this edition is still worth your time and dollars and will make a solid entry in any collection. Hysterical and touching, Eighth Grade is easily one of my top films of the year, and rewatching it on Blu-ray was just as satisfying as the theatrical experience. The jokes still land, and the loose structure of the film makes it inherently rewatchable.