Category Archives: Show Time

Vol. 12, No. 3 – Nov 7 – Nov 20, 2018 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Bus Stop storms into Elite for a spell

A classic dramatic play, Bus Stop by William Inge, is now on stage at the Elite Theater in Oxnard. Born in Kansas, Inge was considered a quintessential midwestern writer who hit his stride in the mid-1950s. He wrote about life in small towns and the commonality of people as they are forced together under difficult circumstances. Bus Stop is said to be the play that put Inge into the public eye.

The cast of Bus Stop, under the direction of Brian Robert Harris, brings the audience into Grace’s Diner west of Kansas City when a cross-country bus is stranded overnight due to blizzard conditions. Headed for destinations out of state, the riders are a disparate group all with their own reasons to be on the move. As the night wears on, the characters learn much about each other and about themselves.

The diner is run by Grace (Aileen-Marie Scott), an easy going “been there” woman filled with an understanding of how things are and how to cope as best she can. Her high-school age helper, Elma Duckworth (Shayde Bridges), displays youthful trust and naivete that almost land her in trouble. The local sheriff, Will Masters (Michael Perlmutter), keeps order as needed in the small town. His soft, down-home friendly demeanor carries a tinge of the sharp edge of authority.

The bus is this night manned by Carl (Todd Tickner), a route driver who makes Grace’s a regular stop. Riders trapped in the unbidden stopover are Cherie (Hayley Georgeanne Cariker), a young chanteuse lured from her job in a nightclub by Bo Decker (Michael Wayne Beck), a petulant young cowboy fresh from the rodeo who has vowed to wed Cherie despite her protests. His low-key friend Virgil (Bill Walthall) tries to keep Bo’s volatile temper in check as Cherie waves off his advances. Scott Blanchard plays Dr. Gerald Lyman, an educator with a thirst for drink to cover his lack of self-confidence.

As the night wears on, so do tempers, patience and compassion. Altercations occur, angry words pour forth and fatigue nips at everyone. All the characters are united, however, in their need to be respected. This strong theme is challenged severely as some discover they need to respect themselves first and look below the surface for reasons to respect others.

Performances are strong throughout. The Elite does not have the luxury of providing microphones for their actors, and I found that often the realistic sound of the blizzard outdoors overshadowed the dialogue, especially in the opening scenes. Perhaps a slight adjustment of blizzard tempered, and voices raised would help equalize the volume for everyone’s benefit.

There are some personal moments of beauty as well. Bill Walthall plays the guitar with quiet passion. Hayley Georgeanne Cariker takes the stage by storm with her vocal rendition of “Black Magic” and the loving looks between Grace and Carl (Scott and Tickner are married in “real” life) offer an extra dollop of sweetness to the story.

Bus Stop continues Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through November 18. Reservations are recommended. or 805-483-5118. Adults are $20, Seniors and Students $17. Elite Theatre is located at 2731 S. Victoria Ave in Channel Islands.

Vol. 12, No. 3 – Nov 7 – Nov 20, 2018 – Movie Review

Bohemian Rhapsody
Movie Review: 3.5 Palm Trees out of 4 Palm Trees

by Victoria Usher

Bohemian Rhapsody is a 2018 biographical film about the British rock band Queen.

Queen was a British rock band and they were one of the most popular, most talented, and most influential bands ever. They had a unique style of music that people adored, and they also had exciting and refreshing personalities that people could never get enough of. The film Bohemian Rhapsody is set in the 1970’s and it observes the legendary band, Queen, as they work their way up to super stardom, all while paying extra special attention to the front man Freddie Mercury (played by Rami Malek) and showing the rest of the band members as the supporting actors. The film tells Queen’s story all the way up until the band’s show stopping Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985. Casting was done extremely well for Freddie Mercury as well as for the rest of the band members. The chemistry between all of the actors on screen truly makes you feel as though you are watching the real band interact. There are real events and real struggles shown throughout the film that Freddie Mercury went through during the course of his life. A few of Queen’s greatest and most well-known songs such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We Will Rock You”, “Somebody To Love”, and others are played throughout the film in order to help set the mood, set the tone, and also to help go along with the plot in a special and unique way.

I believe that this was a wonderful film that any person who is a true fan of the band Queen would enjoy watching. One of the specific things that truly keeps you enthralled during the entire film is Rami Malek’s phenomenal performance as Freddie Mercury, the leading man from the band Queen. He allows himself to be completely taken over by his character and become Freddie Mercury. He captures the hearts of all the people watching him.

Directed by Bryan Singer. It was produced by Brian May, Graham King, Jim Beach, Roger Taylor, Dexter Fletcher, Jane Rosenthal, Donald Sabourin, and Richard Hewitt. The screenplay was by Anthony McCarten. The story was by Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan. The film stars Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, and Mike Myers. The cinematography was by Newton Thomas Sigel. It was edited by John Ottman. The casting was done by Susie Figgis. The production design was done by Aaron Haye. The costume design was done by Julian Day. It was distributed by 20th Century Fox.

(Rated: PG-13) (Running Time: 2h 14m)


by Tony Rizzo

Two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank has been in Australia making “I Am Mother,” with Clara Rugaard. The film is about a teenage girl raised by a robot mother designed to repopulate Earth following an extinction event. Her recent film “55 Steps,” with Helena Bonham Carter and Jeffrey Tambor, premiered last month at The Toronto International Film Festival.

Matt Damon has been filming in California; New Orleans; Atlanta; Savannah, Georgia; and in Le Mans, France, for his latest film, “Ford v. Ferrari,” based on the book “Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans,” by A.J. Baime. The $100 million budget should ensure lots of racing action as he and Christian Bale compete for glory at Le Mans. The racing thrills hit screens June 28.

Shirley MacLaine, one of the last movie stars from the golden age of Hollywood, is still going strong at 84. She’s a four-time Oscar nominee, for “Irma La Deuce” (1964), as a director of “The Other Half of the Sky: A China Memoir” (1975), “The Turning Point” (1978) and “Terms of Endearment,” for which she won a best-supporting Oscar in 1984. Shirley recently did Netflix’s “The Little Mermaid,” with William Moseley (“The Chronicles of Narnia”), and has just completed the Disney Fantasy Christmas comedy “Noelle,” for Disney’s streaming service. Shirley has written umpteen books about her reincarnations, and if she’s lived before, she may have been through the studio system more than once!

(c) 2018 King Features Synd., Inc.

Vol. 12, No. 2 – Oct 24 – Nov 6, 2018 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Interplanetary hi-jinx in high gear at Rubicon

It seems that no matter what the situation or scenario, William Shakespeare already has it covered. Based very loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Return to the Forbidden Planet uses a clever mix of science fiction, rock music and many of the Bard’s words to weave its tale. Author Bob Carlton debuted the musical in London in 1989 to rave reviews. Rubicon first presented it in 2016 and brought it back specifically for the theater’s 20th anniversary season.
Imagine Galaxy Quest meets Plan 9 meets Shakespeare.

The action begins the minute one enters the theater. Members of the crew of the ship Scientific Survey Flight Nine welcome patrons and assist in acclimating them to their surroundings and rules to follow while in flight.

As the voyage begins Captain Tempest (Daniel DeYoung) and the crew is introduced to their new Science Officer – a woman. Egads. She immediately abandons ship on the last shuttlecraft just before the ship crashes on an uncharted planet. The planet is ruled by Prospero (Kevin Bailey), a brilliant scientist who was rocketed there fifteen years ago by his wife, Gloria (Rebecca Ann Jonson) who coincidentally is the new Science Officer, before his greatest discovery was revealed. Their infant daughter Miranda was along and the two have been exiled on the lonely planet.

Captain Tempest welcomes Prospero onto his ship and things turn a bit crazy. Miranda (Kimberly Hessler), who is now of age, has never seen other men before and right away is struck by the Captain. The ship’s cook, Cookie (Andrew Huber), is smitten with Miranda and vows to win her over. Along the way we are introduced to Ariel (Larry Cedar), a quite hip and groovy robot.

The plot is a relatively simple one of love found, love lost, and love regained. The setting on a space ship armed with a rock band creates an entirely new way to present Shakespeare. It just continues to prove that his words are timeless, as they adapt easily to any situation, no matter how farfetched.

Return to the Forbidden Planet is just plain fun. Riddled with over 20 familiar tunes of the 50’s and 60’s such as Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Shake, Rattle and Roll and She’s Not There, the action is a continual panoply of sight, sound and surprises.

The cast is out of this world talented all around. The Navigation Officer (Eric Shorey) plays a mean synthesizer and the ship comes complete with its own on-board drummer, guitar players and back-up dancers. Shouldn’t they all?

The energy is electric. The stage setting is clever, with all the bells and whistles a space ship could have. On opening night there was a slight hitch in one mechanism and the cast dealt with it so well it took a few moments to realize anything was amiss. Shakespearean dialogue continued until all was resolved and the action progressed seamlessly.

If you caught the show in 2016, go again. If you missed it before, be sure to catch it this time before it spins back into space.

Return to the Forbidden Planet runs through November 4. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 7 p.m, Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Rubicon Theater, 1006 E. Main St, Ventura. or (805) 667-2900 for tickets. Prices vary.

Vol. 12, No. 1 – Oct 10 – Oct 23, 2018 – Movie Review

A Simple Favor
Movie Review: 3 Palm Trees out of 4 Palm Trees

by Victoria Usher

A Simple Favor is a 2018 film directed by Paul Feig. Screenplay by Jessica Sharzer. Based on 2017 novel by Darcey Bell. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Music by Theodore Shapiro. Film Editing by Brent White. Produced by Paul Feig, Jessie Henderson, Mike Drake, and Jason Cloth. Costume design by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus.

The film stars Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”), Blake Lively (“Gossip Girl”), and Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”). It is a mystery, thriller, and it has some fantastic surprising comedy thrown into the mix as well. In the film, Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) and Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) are two suburban mothers who meet each other at the school that both of their sons go to. Despite their obvious differences, they very quickly become close friends. Stephanie is an extremely kind, upbeat, and perfect stay at home mother who runs her very own and very popular mommy vlog. Emily is mysterious, gorgeous, always dressed to kill fashion publicist with a past she would like to keep buried. The two women start spending some time together, they get to know each other a little better, and they share a few secrets with each other. Everything seems okay until one day Emily suddenly goes missing. Stephanie decides that she is going to take it upon herself to figure out what exactly happened and find Emily. But once Stephanie begins her investigation she very quickly gets pulled deeply into Emily’s twisted and dark past, which in turn forces her to open her eyes and face her own dark past.

I believe that what truly keeps you on the edge of your seat while you are watching this film are the main cast and their amazing performances. Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively were brilliant choices for this movie. They have wonderful chemistry when they are on screen together. The way the two of them playoff of each other works extremely well. It was an unexpected but successful and welcoming duo. Both of their characters different personalities made their friendship on screen even more exciting and intriguing to watch.

My main complaint would be that after watching the entire film and thoroughly enjoying the well thought out and thrilling plot line, the ending of the film that was chosen was very anticlimactic and disappointing. But other than that, it is a film that kept me guessing and that I without a doubt enjoyed watching.

Rated: R Running Time: 1h 59m

Vol. 12, No. 1 – Oct 10 – Oct 23, 2018 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine
Millie Musical a whiz-bang in Simi

For pure fun and entertainment presented with pep by top-notch performers, the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” now playing through October 21 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center is highly recommended.

Studio C Performing Arts out of Westlake Village has put together an outstanding cast for the lively, toe-tapping 1920’s musical. Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan penned the book for the staging, adapting the original story and screenplay by Richard Morris. The staging includes a few minor variations on the 1967 film’s storyline as well as added songs and musical numbers.
Millie Dillmount (Colette Peters) arrives in New York City with hopes of finding a job and marrying her boss. The naïve girl from Kansas quickly finds the City less hospitable than she had figured. A chance meeting with Jimmy Smith (Nick Tubbs) directs her to the Priscilla Hotel run by Mrs. Meers (Stephanie Lesh-Farrell) which caters to hopeful actors usually down on their luck. Along the way Millie decides to become “a modern”, updating her look and finding a new best friend in Miss Dorothy Brown (Bryce Hamilton).

With her perky attitude and exceptional stenographer skills, Millie lands a job in an insurance agency. Her boss, Trevor Graydon (Brent Ramirez), a handsome, charismatic up and comer, meets her approval as a potential husband.

Meanwhile, back at the Hotel, orphaned girls are disappearing. Mrs. Meers, along with her henchmen, Ching Ho and Bun Foo, heads up a scheme to sell the hapless girls into slavery. Ho and Foo converse convincingly in their own language with English subtitles provided.
Jimmy introduces Millie to chanteuse and million-heiress Muzzie Van Hossmere (Monica Quinn). Jimmy and the gang ultimately squash the slavery ring, surprises are revealed, and true love is found.

There is not a weak member in this cast. The leading players all possess exceptional voices, beautifully displayed. Ramirez and Quinn particularly give standout performances. A memorable song paying homage to Gilbert and Sullivan’s Modern Major General carries a quickening tempo and impressive articulation. Everyone wears a headset mic which, combined with bundles of vocal power, reaches easily beyond the 12-piece orchestra led by Mazie Rudolph.

Lesh-Farrell plays it up as the villain and Ginny Grady is a hoot as Miss Flannery, the office manager. Laughs are generous throughout as the entire cast camps it up just enough without going overboard.

Director Jeffrey Scott Parsons keeps the action swift and the characters lively. Simple yet creative scene changes often happen as singing and dancing is taking place downstage. There is no down time waiting for scene changes. Period costuming is spot on and charming throughout.

Crisp, fun choreography by Keenon Hooks is tight and well executed, especially given the number of actors on the stage at once. One highlight is a scene at the insurance company involving steno desks on rollers. Both the male and female ensemble dancers make the choreography shine even more.

Thoroughly Modern Millie is just plain fun and extremely well done.

Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley. or 805-583-7900. Tickets are $25, seniors and students $22 and kids 12 and under are $18. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Sunday through Oct. 21.

Vol. 11, No. 26 – Sept 26 – Oct 9, 2018 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Conejo cooks up Comedy Cacophony

For a high-spirited evening of fast-paced shenanigans, Is He Dead? now playing at Conejo Players Theater in Thousand Oaks, fills the bill.

America’s well-loved master storyteller, Mark Twain, offers the basis for this long-hidden work. Twain’s acumen as a playwright was the lesser of his talents, to his documented great disappointment. The work presented is minimally lifted by later adaptation by David Ives.

Written in 1898, the play is set in France 1846. The complicated and twisted plot mirrors some of the fun of its successful predecessor, “Charlie’s Aunt”, written in 1892. A popular style at the time was high farce employing many surprises, disguises and exaggerated characters. Is He Dead? uses these standard gimmicks and more.

The play is a classic melodrama typical of the time. A French artist, Jean-François Millet (Nicholas D. Johnson), finds himself unable to sell enough paintings to live comfortably. Following a visit from a prospective buyer, his friends Agamemnon “Chicago” Buckner (Nick Bemrose), Hans “Dutchy” Von Bismarck (Ezra Ells) and Phelim O’Shaughnessy (Robert Chambers) hatch a plot to declare the artist dead to elevate the value of his works. He wouldn’t be dead of course – he would pretend to be his sister, a widow, who would then reap the benefits of his new-found fame.

Chicago’s sweetheart, Cecile, played by Dawn Michelle and Jean-Franҫois’ paramour Marie, (Lauren Rachel), are appropriately devastated by the ruse that is kept secret from them. They befriend the “widow” causing much consternation throughout.

In the meantime, Bastien André (Kyle Johnson), in attempting to recoup a loan he made to the artist, falls hopelessly in love with the widow, as does the two girls’ father, Papa Leroux (Jim Seerden). Jean-Franҫois, now as the widow Daisy Tilou, must fend off both suitors.

Several of the actors fill several roles, adding to the frenetic action. Thomas Carbone embraces three quite different roles, for instance, all to exaggerated comic effect.

Erin Fagundes and Judy Diderrich portray Madames Bathilde and Caron, who hover sweetly and offer period atmosphere. Jeremy Zeller makes a brief appearance as the King of France. Of course, all is resolved in the end and the happy couples reunited.

The costumes are a highlight of this production. Obviously, much care went into their design and creation to carry the flavor of the piece. The setting produced awkward challenges for the lively foot action. I was confused by the “paintings” that appeared to be photographs on canvas. The second act with myriad doors for entrances and quick exits allowed more opportunity for freedom of movement.

Perhaps it reads better than it plays. The relentless overplay and shouting made it difficult for me to ferret the dialogue out of the din, thus losing some of what little of Twain’s signature humor is embedded in the piece. Several characters are written to use accents to help define their roles, adding to the listening challenge. Oddly, although set in France and featuring a French artist, that verbal touch seemed to be missing except as used lightly by Kyle Johnson as Mr. André.

Is He Dead? Continues through October 6. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. or 805-495-3715 for tickets. Adults $18, Students, Seniors and Military $16.

Vol. 11, No. 25 – Sept 12 – Sept 25, 2018 – Movie Review

Crazy Rich Asians
Review: 3 stars out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Crazy Rich Asians is a 2018 romantic comedy directed by Jon M. Chu. Screenplay by Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim. Based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel of the same name. The film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Nico Santos, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong, and Michelle Yeoh.

Having discovered her fiancé’s family is one of the richest families in Singapore, Rachel Chu has to navigate the intricate power dynamics of the super rich.

I haven’t seen a romantic comedy in quite some time, so much so in fact I forgot what makes them enjoyable. Whether it’s the beautiful locations, the melodrama, or the inevitable cheesy ending, Crazy Rich Asians hit all these hallmarks. Crazy Rich Asians also has the advantage of being fresh for audiences. An all Asian cast placed in Singapore and revolving around modern Asian culture, 3 distinct things that are not going to be familiar to most western audiences; and that is where so much of this film’s strengths come from, it feels genuine. Maybe even more importantly, it’s actually funny.

Crazy Rich Asians had an interesting production history that I would directly attribute to this film’s success. By securing funding from outside the US, and optioning the original story for $1, Kevin Kwan retained strong creative control over the adaptation of his book. Kevin’s pursuit to bring an all Asian cast to the big screen and create a film culturally significant to Asians is laudable. Even turning down a seven-figure payday from Netflix, Kevin was directly responsible for this films success and cultural impact.

I can’t claim to have an understanding of Asian culture, but I can say the portrayal of Asian culture in this film was wildly entertaining. Every bit of this film was turned up to eleven, and the glitz and glamour never stopped being entertaining. The sets were beautiful and really did justice to showing how unique Singapore is. With the titular character being Asian American, there is a lots of drama played off of this fact. At times, romantic comedies can slog around halfway through, but the film stays pretty consistent in quality.

Crazy Rich Asians might be a high point for me in the romantic comedy genre, but some of my usual gripes of the genre are still present. Flashy and wild parties are fun to see, but that makes up a bulk of the films plot. Frequently the film defaults to trying to be all fun and games; I would of liked a bit more fleshed out drama. Maybe asking for more depth from a romcom is the wrong mindset to have, but without a doubt Crazy Rich Asians make a great date night film.

Funny, endearing, and novel, plenty of reasons to make the trip to see this film. Crazy Rich Asians brings fresh ideas and solid execution to the romantic comedy genre. Now if romantic comedy is a steer clear for you, I don’t see that changing for this. It hits all the usual beats and is very predictable in that regard. Nonetheless, If you are looking for a fun date night movie, or for a wild destination wedding without the price tag, Crazy Rich Asians is worth the price of admission. Rated PG-13 2h1m

Vol. 11, No. 25 – Sept 12 – Sept 25, 2018 – A View from House Seats

Singing along to the tunes many of us grew up with.

by Shirley Lorraine
Rock and Roll at the Rubicon

What a terrific way to end the summer – reliving a memorable time in music history and singing along to the tunes many of us grew up with. The world premiere production of I Dig Rock and Roll Music now playing at the Rubicon Theater fills the arena and the audience with memories and joy. We were reminded that music is a healing art so needed in troubled times. The concert entreated the audience to relax and enjoy “about the happiest sound there is”, in the words of Peter, Paul and Mary.

Carrying forward the concept of “Lonesome Traveler”, a Rubicon world premiere of a few years ago focusing on acoustic folk music, the current concert showcases songs made popular in the mid 1960’s and 1970’s when folk became electrified and blended into rock and roll. Those were the days when the lyrics could be easily understood, and specific songs became banners for some of us. Now, some 50 years later, we can still happily sing along. And the lyrics are suitable for all ages to hear.

Co-creators George Grove, Rubicon co-founder James O’Neil and Dan Wheetman have compiled songs that epitomized the era and whose messages are still meaningful today. Perhaps even more so. Protest songs such as “Peace Train” and “War” are mixed with familiar favorites “Cherish”, “California Dreamin”, “Everybody’s Talkin’ and more.

Cast members Caitlin Ary, Sylvie Davidson, Brendan Willing James, Chris Lash, Matt Tucci and Trevor Wheetman displayed their acumen in song styles as well as instrumentation. James and Wheetman both appeared in Rubicon’s Lonesome Traveler, and Davidson appeared in the Off-Broadway production of the same show.

The night I attended one cast member was absent and her part was filled in quite capably by Cassidy Craig, a graduate of the Rubicon’s Harmonix. Craig held her own throughout and even garnered a standing ovation for her rendition of “Respect” in honor of the late Aretha Franklin.

The second act opened with an instrumental medley where the audience was invited to sing along. And we did, joining in on “Hey Jude”, Sweet Caroline” and “Let it Be” among others. Many in the audience kept time to the beats with hands, feet and heads bobbing throughout the performance.

Adding a special touch to the concert were original compositions by James, Lash, Davidson and Wheetman. Lash provided Elton John quality on the keyboards that was intricate and inspiring. Drummer Matt Tucci kept everyone on beat. The range of this talented cast is a thing of beauty to the eye as well as the ear.

Noel Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul and Mary) contributed an original song as well, titled “Standing on the Shoulders” celebrating the lasting influence of musical performers who shaped history.

I Dig Rock and Roll Music provides an evening of nostalgia, beauty and pure enjoyment. Once again, the Rubicon Theater brings forth a high-quality artistic event to enhance our community.

I Dig Rock and Roll Music plays Wednesdays to Sundays through September 16 at the Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St. (corner of Main and Laurel Streets) in downtown Ventura. Matinees: 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tickets: $35-$65. 24-hour ticketing and seat selection is available online at (805) 667-2900.

Vol. 11, No. 24 – Aug 29 – Sept 11, 2018 – Movie Review

Eighth Grade
Review: 3 stars out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Eighth Grade is a 2018 comedy drama, written and directed by Bo Burnham, marking his directorial debut. Starring Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, and Emily Robinson. Eighth Grade follows Kayla Day, a soon to be high schooler, and her life as she navigates through a confusing time of transition.

Dizzyingly awkward, painfully honest, and nauseatingly cringey; pretty much exactly how I remember my last year in middle school. For us millennials and generation Zers, that’s precisely why this film is so appealing. It validates a time in every young person’s life that we fondly look back on and think, “ What the hell was I thinking?” Eighth Grade was Bo Burnham’s first dive into narrative-driven film, and he killed it.

Bo Burnham’s use of unknown actors is something I’ve been itching to see more of in Hollywood. Elsie Fisher’s performance was great and as were many of her co-stars. Having new unknown actors is such an easy way to circumvent the problem of having experience adults play the role of children. This added authenticity really goes a long way to improve the experience and help the viewer’s immersion.

However, Bo Burnham’s screenplay was really the star of the show here. I haven’t seen other media really do justice to the youth culture of Gen Zers quite like Eighth Grade. Awkward parental dabbing, Fortnite dances, and vlogging, it’s all there and just as silly as it looks in our lives. In the middle of all that though, this is a story of encouragement. A story that we all persevere through this time and eventually hit our stride. Kayla Day is so easy to root for, so easy to care for, because she so perfectly encapsulates that vulnerable time in everyone’s life.

With all that said, the biggest obstacle to Eighth Grade’s success is really itself. It’s an awkward story, about awkward teenagers, in an awkward time in their life. I can’t help but ask myself who really is this film for? An R rated film targeted specifically for middle schoolers,that spends as much time poking fun at youth culture as it does celebrate it. That’s a hard sell. Really, I feel the film seems to be best suited for us young adults who just love to commiserate. Reminiscing about how terrible of a time middle school was is a fun ride, but not one that everyone wants to go on. It’s a great film, that much is clear, but it very much isn’t for everyone. Rated R 1h34m