**In this post, I discuss thoughts about this movie. There are spoilers in the post.**
In this movie, Kayla Day is an eighth-grade student on her last week of middle school. We see her struggles of trying to fit in with her peers, start an unsuccessful YouTube channel of motivational videos, and getting ready to begin her high school life.
I didn’t hear anything about the movie until a podcast I listen to called Pop Culture Happy Hour talked about this film. I’ve also never heard anything about or from Bo Burnham before. The only thing that I saw after watching this movie is that he was a YouTube star and the movie was an official selection of The Sundance Film Festival. After watching this movie, I’m glad that I saw this movie. Mostly due to now is when award movie season time begins. When the so-called indie art house type movies come out, and the Oscar’s and Golden Globes type awards are given out. I’m never any good at predicting if certain films are going to get any awards nominations, but I hope this is remembered and has a shot at some of those awards. Even though I feel that art is subjective and a distinction shouldn’t be a deterrent if a movie is good or bad for anyone.
Everything about Kayla felt realistic. The acne on her face was a great touch. Her body shape wasn’t like the other girls that were popular around her. She was an introvert that never could find the right thing to say. Her dialogue and body language felt spot on as a shy introverted person, and it showed whenever she was trying to create small talk, but it came out extremely awkward. The actress Eisie Fischer went into the audition for the role as a shy girl trying to be extroverted which got her the part, while everyone else did the opposite who auditioned for the role. I think that she did a great job.
If there is anything that caught my attention thanks to taking a speech class for college, is the amount of “likes,” “ums,” and “you knows” that is said throughout the movie. This is prevalent at the beginning of the film when we are introduced to Kayla. She is creating a YouTube video and the number of times that she says those words was at least over 30 in the opening monologue from her. (I lost count after that). While a speech teachers nightmare, it was a great way to introduce the introverted nature of Kayla while she is trying to be extroverted in a motivational video series. But like most people will not take the advice that she is giving to get noticed in the real world.
This movie was just about her. No other side stories or additional real character development that kind of her dad. It was interesting that she wasn’t bullied or was paid attention to whenever she walked around, she just seemed like Kayla was there in a world of either distracted people or others that she didn’t click with. I did also like the cinematography centered on her. That there was a lot of action going around her, but she just existed, and we followed her story. It really made a girl who felt noticed, actually being noticed. A lot of coming of age movies I’ve seen have a bully that makes fun of the girl who is different from them. It was great that she only thing that seemed to be attacked by the popular girls by not saying a word to her. But they did have a scene where she was invited to a pool party by a popular girls mother, but it those “hopes that her single dad shows up” moments like in past movies I saw. It felt like a device to get her at the party.
If there is anything that caught my attention thanks to taking a speech class for college, is the amount of “likes,” “ums,” and “you knows” that is said throughout the movie. This is prevalent at the beginning of the film when we are introduced to Kayla. She is creating a YouTube video and the number of times that she says those words was at least over 30 in the opening monologue from her. (I lost count after that). While a speech teachers nightmare, it was a great way to introduce the introverted nature of Kayla while she is trying to be extroverted in a motivational video series. But like most people will not take the advice that she is giving to get ahead in the real world.
The message of the film about the obsession of social media and how we either perceive it or want to be seen is clear. It even seems evident in our culture’s youth. Even kids are calling out kids and adults for being in a different generation with social media. Two great scenes are when Kennedy tells her mom, “no one uses Facebook anymore” after her mom tells Kennedy to invite Kayla to the party through Facebook. When Kayla was at the mall with high schoolers, and they ask what grade she got Snapchat in and are shocked when she says 5th grade (I believe). Kids are ones that seem influenced by what they see on social media and how or what others use. There is a great scene when Kayla was laying in bed with Orinoco Flow play is she was searching through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. At least that is what I got from one of the messages of the movie. Also, kids are too distracted to react or know what is going on around them. This happens when Kayla tries to be friendly with the popular girls, and they don’t even acknowledge her. Then at the end had a scene with telling off Kennedy that she didn’t reply back to her thank you letter and all of her attempts to be kind to Kennedy. Kennedy just gave a look back at her as if to say who are you again? Which I interpreted the reaction as Kayla’s social status or Kennedy really has no idea what Kayla is talking about.
She gets her into some messes that do feel are realistic and somewhat, are you kidding me at the same time? When she told her crush during a school shooting drill Aiden that she has nude pics of herself. (by the way, is odd to have a shooting drill at the end of the year? I’m not sure how effective that is to a student for that school going into high school). She did this when she overhears he broke up with a girl who wouldn’t send him any nude pics. He got interested in her and asked if she gives oral sex. Kayla is awkwardly perfect in her reply, but I can’t figure why after seeing on YouTube how to do it, she gets disgusted at the reveal that her crush is a creep but almost attempts to try the actions out with a banana in a later scene. Also, after a night out in high schoolers she met at orientation, she is left alone with one of the boys and invited to play a game of Truth or Dare. When the game turns dangerous for her and backs off, she is chastised by him and pretty much called her worthless as he wanted to “help” her. There was a point before this that she could have been dropped off first and this the movie, low lighting made it seems that the high schooler wouldn’t take no for an answer and set up an overly obvious foreshadowing scene but just gives up. The point was clear to me about the things an unpopular person might go to get noticed, and she does push back. But, in a world that gives more information to kids nowadays that focus on Social Media, giving us additional knowledge. The fact that it’s showed that she knows about Rick and Morty a show that is rated MA and has content in the show that she should have known before getting into the situations, it gave me some conflicting opinions about those scenarios she was in that told her story.
The film made great use of the adults trying to be hip with the kids but failing at it. Whether it was a teacher “dabbing” when he entered the room or a person on the sex educational video that used the word “lit.” I’m never cool or with it, but those are two things that wouldn’t resonate with me at all. I even eyes rolled at those points like I feel any kid would do when done. Kayla also got a time capsule back from when she entered Middle School of different hopes and dreams and thoughts from when she started sixth grade. I’ll give credit to the video that she saw of her younger self of confidence and ambitions, only to burn the box later. Kind of like a Pandora’s box moment of shutting hope out and giving up.
There aren’t many other characters to mention other than her father, Mark. He was a great as a dad who is trying to reach his daughter and break her off social media but fails by trying in his own dad way. They had a great scene at the end where she and her dad were sitting around a fire where she burned her time capsule when she started Middle School and apologized for letting him down. It was the best parent response that you could get of that she shouldn’t have to apologize and is proud of her and never be sad. It felt very genuine.
This film is Rated R but might have been able to get away with a PG-13 rating. The only reason is like The Kings Speech as it does have a few other F-bombs in the movie and maybe some of the innuendos as well. I’d like to see if this gets some popularity in the coming weeks if a PG-13 cut of the movie will make it out there as it’s not one of the worst rated R films that are out there, but still should be watched by an adult first if your pre-teen wants to see it.
Did you also happen to watch this movie? Any potential upcoming award-winning movies coming out that you want to see? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading.