Eighth Grade –

Rating (3 out of 5)

While an interesting introspective to the loner in eighth grade, the movie is slow in developing, and I just didn’t connect with the main character.

On a more personal level, I thought the dad did everything wrong, letting her use the phone at the dinner table, not engaging in regular conversation, and not telling her that he would take her home from the mall.  I have a hard time enjoying a movie where people make very stupid choices.  I also thought the conversation around the fire was a bit weak for the father.  Tell her you concerned for her; you are proud of her for what?  Being a single dad has to be hard, and it is probably harder with a daughter for a dad; but the choices are interesting.

 

Compared to the movie I saw the day before, Blindspotting, I understood the choices and situations.  Therefore, I could empathize better with a black man from Oakland than I could this young girl.  Now, my daughter informs me that many of her friends treat their parents like this girl treated her father, and that, of course I am lucky to have such a wonderful daughter, which is why it might be difficult for me to understand.

Now the positives for this movie:  I remember people like this young lady, and I probably made fun of them.  This makes me think about how mean we were as kids, and how wrong we were to treat them this way.  The hard part to admit is I bucket this as “we”, but it was me, I made a choice.  I was mean to a girl like this.  I can remember her name.  Did I do it because everyone else did, or because I didn’t like her?  It doesn’t matter, now, it was wrong.  However, I received the same message after watching the original Flatliners with Kevin Bacon.

My favorite scene was the high schoolers debating at the food court at the mall.  I could see my kids doing this when with their friends.  I really enjoyed the subject of the generations, and even the change in technology over a few years time.  Looking back on the movie, I wish they had explored this more.

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Another part of the movie I didn’t quite understand, and therefore found it difficult to empathize with her, was the birthday gift.  Seems like a small thing to focus on, but she used to it to snap at the snotty girls later on in the movie, so I guess it is important.  She went to the snooty girls birthday party and bought her a card game.  Why would she do that unless she is looking to be harassed?  She was on social media enough to know how that would perceived.  A better gift, if you don’t know what she wants is always a gift card to her favorite store.  Not a great gift but usable, and one that doesn’t reveal your dorkiness.  This was all designed to create the confrontation, and therefore a writing gimmick.

That is what was odd about this story, was the two sides of this girl.  She was mean to her father, but then was upset at the girls for being mean to her.  She was on social media, and had YouTube channel of sorts, yet, failed to connect with people in person.  Maybe that was a point, but still she would know more about things than she let on.  It was those divergences that maybe didn’t line up for me in the end.

In middle school (we called it Junior High) I was comfortable with who I was and where I stood amongst the caste structure, so maybe I have trouble seeing the issues that this young girl had.  This might explain my lower score.  If you think about Breakfast Club, it explored all the cliques of a school, where this focused on one girl without a clique.  Breakfast Club allowed you to find an individual that you identified and related, which gave you a connection.

I see this movie speaking to those who didn’t enjoy their middle school days or felt uncomfortable, so if you are one of those, add 1 or 2 to the score.

This movie had some good truths in it, but since it took so long to develop it felt slow.  I was ready to fall asleep in the recliner at the theater.  I don’t see my wife or daughter enjoying this movie, but have asked my daughter to go see it.  After my daughter sees this movie I will add and addendum on for her opinion.

 

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