Eighth Grade ★★★

Twenty-seven-year-old YouTube sensation Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, the comic drama that brought opening night audiences to their feet at this spring’s Independent Film Festival Boston, finally takes a larger bow. But those who would get the most out of the Hamilton native’s first film as a writer/director (actual eighth-graders) are restricted from seeing this insightful, poignant glimpse into tweenage life unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, because of its R-rating. So, gear up for a dose of discomfort, take your kid to the theater, and then cringe as you mutually sink into your seats when oral sex is discussed and you remember that, yeah, this is how middle school was. Sure, technology has changed the way we experience life (you may not have had a screen addiction when you were 13), but some things are everlasting, like the way teachers try—yet fail—to seem cool to their students, or how parents struggle to connect to their disinterested kids over dinner. What’s shocking, however, is how Burnham—who bills himself as a comedian, musician, singer, songwriter, rapper, actor, poet, director and producer—was able to tap into the psyche of an awkward young girl. Elsie Fisher—a naturalistic performer best known for voicing Gru’s adopted daughter Agnes in the first two Despicable Me films—plays Kayla, a girl who’s been voted “Most Quiet” in her class. Which is to say, she’s invisible. And although the little-viewed, on-the-nose advice videos she uploads to YouTube ultimately betray Burnham’s origins, this is one character you won’t soon forget. (At Boston Common and Kendall Square.)

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