movie

Why I Almost Didn’t See Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade” and Why I’m Glad I Did

One of the most talked about films in theaters right now is Bo Burnham’s directorial debut, Eighth Grade. Having been a fan of the comedian for a number of years now, when I learned his name was attached to the already intriguing project, it made the decision to see it pretty easy. So, this past Monday, as I packed up my stuff at work, I checked the showtimes nearby and decided to spend my open afternoon doing just that.

Walking into the theater for the 4:00 p.m. showing, I fell in step behind a couple and then discovered my assigned seat was directly beside them. We shared a laugh and made a few comments about the associated odds, and then slowly got quiet. They leaned into each other and talked low, and I opened the book I had in my purse.

As time went on, other people began to shuffle in. Some alone, like the girl my age in a slouchy cardigan, and the one probably younger than me with a blonde bun piled on top of her head; an older woman carrying a large popcorn and a colorful shawl, and a man about my dad’s age wearing a red shirt and glasses, who took a seat in the very front row. Others arrived in pairs, like the couple already stealing bites of each other’s food, the boy in the baseball hat that walked in laughing beside the one with long brown hair, and a pair of girls carrying identical ICEEs and whispering.

The man in the couple next to me leaned in to his girlfriend. “What do you remember about eighth grade?”

“Not much,” she replied.

He paused and then said, “I remember my dad taking me out of school for a week…” and then continued the story too quiet for me to hear.

I sat reading my book, listening to the mumbles of surrounding conversation, my mind wandering to where I was in eighth grade. I thought of the week I had pneumonia and how when I came back a number of my fellow classmates told me they thought I died. I remembered having crushes on boys that my best friend and I gave code names and wrote about in notebooks that we passed back and forth between classes. I thought about my hair and what a nightmare (at least I thought) it was, and how I refused to take it out of a bun unless it was flat-ironed. Also, the pink pants, but I tried not to harp on those, it was the early 2000s.

After a while, people started to get restless, and when I looked at my watch, I understood why. Before I could form an opinion on the matter however, a theater employee walked in to inform us that the movie would not be playing. He offered his sincerest apologies and assured us we would get a refund and a coupon. Glancing around at each other, we all stood up, most of us shrugging and exchanging short anecdotes like, “well that sucks.”

As we stood in line for our coupons, I got the same feeling I always get after I walk out of a movie. That sense of camaraderie with my fellow moviegoers, knowing we’d just gone on the same journey together, even though in this case the journey was much shorter than we might have preferred.

On my way back to the car, I glanced at my phone. Since I’d spent a good amount of time looking over the showtimes earlier in the day, I remembered something about a 5:15 showing at a theater down the road. I tucked my coupon in my pocket and picked up my pace. I had 15 minutes. I could make it.

Hustling to the line at the second theater, I waited patiently, alternating my gaze between my feet, the ticket window and my watch. In a look back a few minutes later, I recognized a few of the faces getting in line behind me. A girl with a blonde bun piled on top of her head; a boy in a baseball cap followed closely by a boy with long brown hair; a man about my dad’s age with a red shirt and glasses. Each of them held a gift certificate in their hand, waiting patiently while trying not to look at their watches.

Once I was in the new theater, I again took a seat by myself, again noting the couples, groups and other singles that filed into the theater one after the other. My instincts were to feel self-conscious. I was here alone after all, and eighth grade me would have died at the thought. But as the lights went down and the conversations I wasn’t a part of began to fade out, I realized how far gone I was from eighth grade me. And as I watched the movie and laughed and cried and cringed with everyone about the things we all went through at that age, I was reminded how far we’ve all come since then.

Without going through what we did, the movie might not have been as funny, and it might not have made us (or hey, at least me) cry. We wouldn’t have cringed or “aww-ed” or wanted to hug the hell out of Kayla (the main character played by Elsie Fisher) because we wouldn’t have understood how much better things get. How much more we were going learn and experience and discover. We wouldn’t know that eighth grade is ugly but life is beautiful. That life becomes beautiful because eighth grade is ugly, and how it repeats this cycle throughout every stage that follows.

So as credits began to roll and the lights came back up, we all looked around at each other and smiled. We were filled with that feeling of camaraderie, but this time it wasn’t only because of what we’d gone through today, it was because of everything we’d gone through since the day we stepped foot into eighth grade, and every step we’d taken after. We knew were in this together, and that unlike our eighth grade selves, we weren’t afraid to admit that that mattered.

My Top 10 Christmas Movies (List-cember #1)

Hello and welcome back to the second annual List-cember!

In case you missed it last year, I dedicated my December to posts centered around lists. Some were Christmas themed, some weren’t, some will be returning for a second edition this year, some won’t. Regardless, I’m excited to bring you the second installment! I hope you enjoy and I hope you give me opinions on things you’d include if you wrote one of these lists. I’m all about the input, people, give it to me!

To kick us off, I’ve got somewhat of a controversial topic: Christmas movies. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about people during Christmas time, it’s their devotion to watching what they consider THE BEST Christmas movies. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about these kind of movie watchers it’s their tendency to debate over why they think their Christmas movies are THE BEST. Now, I’m not here to debate, really, I’m more just standing here with my list and a white flag saying, “these are my opinions, and I totally respect yours.” But if you have a Christmas movie you love that I didn’t include, please let me know. Because if there’s one undeniable fact about Christmas movies, it’s that you can never watch too many.

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10) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

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I’ve really only seen this movie a handful of times, but it’s one of those that I constantly forget how funny it is until I watch it again. It’s Chevy Chase in his prime and it’s one of my dad’s favorite movies, which makes it that much better.

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9) The Year Without a Santa Clause

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This is a classic from the 70s where Santa wakes up with a cold after Thanksgiving and decides not to deliver presents that Christmas. Instead he sends out two of his elves to figure out if anyone still cares about Christmas or even believes in Santa anymore. I realize that the way I’m describing it makes it sound totally depressing but it’s not. (At least not all of it.) It’s got cute characters and catchy songs that I’ve been singing my entire life, so if you haven’t seen this one, I highly recommend you check it out!

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8) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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This is another classic that’s undeniably adorable. We all know the story of Rudolph and how he saved the day—or rather, Christmas Eve night—but this gives us some backstory on the little guy, including his friendship with an elf named Hermey and his run in with the Abominable Snow Monster of the North (no relation to King of the North, Jon Snow.) Fun fact: There is a point in the movie when Rudolph yells, “I’m cuuuuuute!” and my family quotes this approximately 30 times a year.

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7) To Grandmother’s House We Go

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If you were anything like me as a kid, you were OBSESSED with the Olsen twins, so it’s really no surprise that the girls’ Christmas film holds a firm place in my top 10. In this story, the girls overhear their mom saying she needs a vacation, so they sneak onto a UPS truck in the hopes it will take them to their grandmother’s house. Mind you, the girls are only about six years old, so this causes some panic among multiple parties, but it’s undeniably cute and makes me smile every time.

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6) The Grinch

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I can already cross this one off my “to-watch” list this year because my roommates and I watched it while decorating our house the other day. It had actually been a few years since I watched it and I forgot how good Jim Carrey is in it.

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5) It’s a Wonderful Life

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This is one of those movies that always makes you think a little bit more about how lucky you are to have what you have, especially during the holiday season when the general mindset is focused what you want. I think it’s an important one to watch each year, if only to hear Jimmy Stewart yell, “MARRRYY.”

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4) A Christmas Story

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I take it back, this is probably my dad’s favorite Christmas movie. We’ve undoubtedly watched this movie upwards of 20 times in my life and we still laugh at all the same parts. Recently, I got a flat tire and I thought of the scene when Ralphie drops his infamous F-bomb, and while I’ve never had much of a dirty mouth, it still made me very grateful my mom rarely bought bars of soap. Fun fact: my family actually owns two bb-guns like the one shown in the movie and we break them out every Christmas to shoot old ornaments. Additional fun fact: no eyes have been shot out…so far.

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3) Love Actually

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I’ve been trying to stop myself from getting cheesy and saying I actually love this movie, but, well, anyways. I do love this movie and I watch it every year while I wrap presents. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry and it gives me all the warm fuzzies. Also, Hugh Grant’s dancing scene is one of my favorite things that’s ever happened in a movie.

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2) Elf

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At this point, it has to be almost impossible to make a Christmas movie that can hold up among the oldies, but Will Ferrell managed to do it a few years back—woah, I just googled it, and this actually came out 14 years ago, yikes—and I think it will forever be regarded as one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

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1) The Family Stone

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I know, I know, this one has got to be a little bit of a surprise for most people. As far as I know, my family is the only one that consistently watches this EVERY year, sometimes more than once during the Christmas season alone. But it is undeniably my favorite Christmas movie and probably one of my favorite movies of all time. I don’t even know what it is about it, maybe it’s just the place it holds in my family’s heart. But we laugh and laugh and cry and cry every year as if we’ve never seen it before and I wouldn’t have it any other way.