The new film Eighth Grade is all about the difficulties of dealing with adolescence. It's the sort of thing other kids could really relate to. Unfortunately, they won't have that opportunity, at least not in theaters. The new movie by first time director Bo Burnham will not be seen by eighth graders unless they can bring their parents along, as the film is Rated-R. Officially, according to the MPAA...
It goes without saying that there's a certain irony that your movie about living through the eighth grade is going to keep 13-year-olds outside the theater because they are deemed too young for the material. Based on the film's early response, however, it doesn't appear that there's anything actually in the movie that your average eighth grader hasn't experienced. The movie apparently contains bad language and sexual material. Welcome to being 13-years-old.
While movie ratings certainly have their purpose, as it's valuable for any audience to have an idea what they're going to get before they walk into a theater, this does perhaps show that sometimes a one size fits all rating system doesn't necessarily work. It appears that more than one F-bomb gets dropped over the course of Eighth Grade, which means an R-rating is a guarantee. While a parent might not want a child subjected to that in some cases, the context here is something different. Kids swear, mostly because they can, and showing anything less than that would be a less than honest portrayal of what the movie is trying to convey.
While adults can certainly relate to the material of Eighth Grade as well, as they were there once themselves, it would likely mean as much to the younger audience that is currently going through the trying time that is middle school. The eighth grade was literally the worst, it might be nice for young teenagers having a tough time with it to see that they're not alone. Adults already know it gets better, the teenagers are the ones who need to know they'll survive.
Certainly, over time, plenty of eighth graders will get a chance to see Eighth Grade. After it leaves theaters and shows up on premium cable or streaming services it will be much easier for those too young to get into a theater to get access to. And based on the early reviews, it looks like they should. The film has but a single negative review on Rotten Tomatoes, so it looks like there really is something here worth seeing, for those who have been, as well as those that are, in the eighth grade.
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