I haven't written my Eighth Grade review for the past two days because I've been racking my brain trying to remember what the name of the discount sneakers was that became my unkindly aimed nickname in Junior High School - as I've spelled out before I was poor as poor can be as a kid and that's the sort of thing I got ridiculed for; weirdly nobody ever gay-bashed me, even when I literally ran away from the first girl to ask me out (literally!), but my poverty? That was ripe and picked over plenty.
Anyway I can't for the life of me remember what the sneaker brand was, I've clearly blocked it out for my sanity, but I just now realized getting hung on that detail is exactly the sort of nerdy and pointless thing that one of the nerdy characters in Eighth Grade would humiliate themselves for, proving I've hardly grown since then. But who has? And director Bo Burnham knows it.
His film, a relentlessly incisive and anxiety-inducing dumbo drop into the worst time of our collective lives, is way sweeter and way funnier than you anticipate - it's Welcome to the Dollhouse not directed by a misanthrope. Coming from a misanthrope and a life-long staunch defender of Todd Solondz's scabrous wit this should be an insult - an Acidless Solondz - and yet here we are and Eighth Grade is probably a masterpiece. Perhaps we just need the antidote these days.
I don't mean to make the film sound like some Oprah-approved affirmational journey, not for all of the three-thousand count sheets in the world - it's the stuff that clogs pimples turned into cinema; it's stress in public, pools and misshapen kneecaps infiltrated with scabs. It's like sucking puberty through a pink crazy straw, an ice cream headache in all your teeth naked on stage in front of a crowd of all your classmates - it's awkward adolescence turned into poetry, hand-scribbled, affectionately loopy love marks above the i's. Gucci! Now somebody check on Elsie Fisher and make sure she's okay, please...