Decision at the Movies: Eighth Grade or the New Mission: Impossible

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If your heading out to the movies today, you just might be faced with a dilemma. Eight Grade or Mission: Impossible – Fallout. The small-budget human drama, lauded by critics and audiences alike, or the Hollywood action-franchise blockbuster . . . lauded by critics and audiences alike.

To the vast majority of you this will be an easy choice. Do you like relentless action intensity? Or do you prefer a nuanced emotional journey? They’re very different, you see. But some of you might actually want to see both. (I sure did.) Because, hey, we’re humans goddammit, with complex and varied tastes.

So, what do you choose?

Allow me to help.

You see to us—the eclectics—the important difference is not in the two films’ emotional experiences, but in the levels of comfort each offers.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the best film the franchise has seen in a very long time. Maybe even overall. Where as, the last two instalments felt somewhat formulaic and more than a little pat, Fallout reinvigorates its none-too-original narrative. It feels like you’re watching a Mission Impossible film for the very first time. But at the same time, you really aren’t. You have seen such films before. So even though it’s exciting as all good hell, you know what your getting. It is, in every way, a Mission Impossible film, and a pretty great one at that.

Eight Grade on the other hand, offers up something fresh. Is it an original idea for a story? Are you kidding me? A young (almost) teenager contends with the social pressures and expectations that come with being alive at that age? No. Not original. Of course not. But how it’s done. How it feels to watch it. Simultaneously grounding the stakes in both the protagonist’s and the audience’s points of view. So we—wise old adults that we are—can chuckle behind our hands at Kayla’s naivety, even as we earnestly share her rather callow goals. We can be terrified as she blindly steps into situations she’s too young too recognize, yet wholly empathise with her childish perceptions of them. It’s a film about being young and struggling, and an original one at that. And also a pretty great one.

So, what does this all come down to? See both. Okay, say you really have to pick just one, how about this: if you’re looking for a familiar experience which is none-the-less acutely gratifying, go with Mission: Impossible. If you want something fresh and new, something you haven’t quite experienced before—but with confidence that’ll enjoy it—check out Eight Grade.

Good enough?

Really? You’re REALLY going to make me pick one? Fine. Eight Grade. Okay?