Eighth Graders Watch ‘Eighth Grade’ as well as Relate (as well as Also Cringe)

of which article contains spoilers for the movie “Eighth Grade.”

Bo Burnham’s drama “Eighth Grade” has much of which real eighth graders might recognize: a trumpet shriek during a school band concert, the glow of Instagram in a dark room, the awkwardness of a pool party photo. the item’s a coming-of-age story of which captures a generation weaned on screen time with astonishing honesty, critics say.

although there’s one major catch: Eighth graders can’t see the item by themselves. Even though organizations like Common Sense Media deem the film appropriate for young teenagers, the film can be rated R, because of a few choice four-letter words as well as some squirm-inducing sex talk.

On Wednesday, A24, the company behind the film, rebelled against the rating for one night, holding free all-ages screenings in every state. as well as teenagers turned out in droves. According to the production company, theaters hit full capacity in Des Moines, Omaha as well as 13 some other cities; more than 700 showed up at the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles, where Mr. Burnham as well as his 15-year-old star, Elsie Fisher, appeared in person to answer questions.

In Brooklyn, the line at the Alamo Drafthouse snaked into the hall for a second screening of which had been quickly added after the first one sold out in a blink. Adults were far outnumbered by younger moviegoers, some excitedly clustering in groups, others nervously waiting alone.

Many said they were fans of Mr. Burnham — the filmmaker got his start as a comedian on YouTube — as well as learned about the event through his Instagram. of which included two 15-year-old friends who were first in line, having shown up three hours early. “I thought the item was going to be like those YouTube conventions where there are big lines,” one of them said. She had come out of both her enthusiasm for Mr. Burnham’s standup as well as her affinity for the subject material. “I had a very traumatic middle-school experience,” she said. “I might just lock myself inside the bathroom as well as cry as well as have an anxiety attack all day.”

She was far via the only one there to bluntly recall struggles with mental-health issues. “For me the item was definitely awful,” said one 13-year-old who graduated via middle school in June. “Throughout the entire thing I had pretty severe anxiety as well as depression.”

One 15-year-old, Terrance, brought his mother along in hopes of which she might better understand the pressures technology imposes on people in his age group. “the item was me trying hard to be someone of which I wasn’t,” he said of his eighth-grade experience. “I know of which movie will probably hit me hard.”

With the theater filled as well as more than 30 hopefuls turned away, two young stars of “Eighth Grade,” Jake Ryan as well as Imani Lewis, introduced the movie, which follows Kayla (Ms. Fisher), an eighth grader who builds a confident persona online while struggling with loneliness as well as anxiety inside the real world.

During the screening, the audience joked, giggled as well as responded audibly to Kayla’s ups as well as downs. There were groans when a high school teacher dabbed; fidgeting as well as face-covering when Kayla searched for fellatio tips online; hisses as well as boos at an unwanted sexual advance; as well as sniffles during a tender, cathartic moment between Kayla as well as her father (Josh Hamilton).

Although most of the teenagers inside the audience wouldn’t have been allowed in on a normal day, their attendance wasn’t illegal: The Motion Picture Association of America leaves enforcement of its ratings to the discretion of theaters. When the all-ages screenings were announced, the Parents Television Council, a watchdog group, condemned the decision. “The Hollywood studio at issue here can be grotesquely as well as irresponsibly usurping parental authority,” the organization’s president, Tim Winter, said in a statement.

In a phone interview before the screening, Mr. Burnham acknowledged the importance of protecting kids, although said of which his movie provided crucial context for difficult experiences. “I don’t look at the rating systems as well as think, ‘You guys are so puritanical as well as evil as well as out of touch,’” he said. “The problem can be, kids are not getting of which content via movies. They’re getting the item via the internet. as well as you can’t stop them.”

Mr. Burnham, 27, said he learned about teen culture through YouTube vlogs as well as the eighth graders who surrounded him on set every day; he trusted them to help him create a world of which was verbally as well as socially accurate. “I think kids can handle the truth of themselves; they don’t need their hand held through their own life,” Mr. Burnham said, before correcting himself: “Well, they do — although they don’t need the item in art or whatever.”

After many scenes of escalating stress, the movie ended on a more optimistic note, with Kayla as well as her fresh goofy friend, Gabe (Mr. Ryan), eating chicken nuggets as well as imitating “Rick as well as Morty” characters.

“I felt like I was kind of collapsing in on myself until the scene where she’s at dinner,” the 13-year-old recent eighth-grade graduate said. “I definitely related a lot.”

Terrance agreed: “the item was too real, definitely, although I appreciated the item. the item’s crazy how accurate the item was.”

Teenagers weren’t the only ones affected. Kelly Alzamora, 40, brought her 13-year-old daughter. as well as while she admitted to watching her daughter during some uncomfortable scenes to gauge her reaction, she too saw herself in Kayla. “Everything she feels, I feel all the time. The anxiety doesn’t definitely go away,” she said.