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'Eighth Grade' is a gently humorous and nuanced portrait of middle school

It’s rare to see a movie about middle school years that looks and sounds as right as 'Eighth Grade,' which is written and directed by Bo Burnham.

Linda Kallerus/A24/AP
Elsie Fisher stars in 'Eighth Grade.'

It’s rare to see a movie about middle school years that looks and sounds as right as “Eighth Grade,” a modest charmer written and directed by Bo Burnham about 13-year-old Kayla (a marvelous Elsie Fisher), who posts motivational monologues on YouTube about how to be confident without ever – away from the web – appearing very confident about anything.

Burnham avoids most of the “Mean Girls”-style tropes in favor of a more gently humorous and nuanced approach. Given the potential young audience for this film, its R rating seems especially punitive. Grade: B+ (Rated R for language and some sexual material.)

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