Eppler: Two movies about perils of growing up - FOX34 Lubbock

Eppler: Two movies about perils of growing up

"Eighth Grade" is an insightful, funny and sometimes heartbreaking look at modern adolescence and the challenges unique to this generation presented by technology and social media. 

Elsie Fisher, who'd just finished eighth grade herself when filming began, is nothing short of a revelation as Kayla - forced to carry the considerable weight of this film pretty much on her own - as we follow her through her final week of Junior High. She's both hilarious and emotionally raw - managing to keep us on her side even when she's being a jerk to her earnest, yet helpless single dad (a wonderful performance by Josh Hamilton).

"Eighth Grade" is written and directed by stand-up comic Bo Burnham - demonstrating a good eye for filmmaking, but an even better ear for dialogue that rings true. "Eighth Grade" is a special movie that feels like it should be required viewing for teens and parents to better understand each other. 

While "Eighth Grade" is a movie about growing up, "Christopher Robin" is about a grown up learning to be a kid again. Ewan McGregor is the grown version of the child from A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories. He's now a war veteran and businessman neglecting his wife and child until he's reminded of his own childhood coming face-to-face with old friends.

Yes, this is "Hook" territory, which is not as good a movie as you remember. While "Christopher Robin" tells its story more deftly, it never quite finds the right tone or pacing. A fog of melancholy hangs over it and the long set up leads to a quick, predictable resolution that doesn't quite feel earned. Frankly, I was more moved by a couple other recent animated bear movies ("Ted" and especially "Paddington 2"). 

But I did love the callbacks to the classic stories I grew up with and hearing the inimitable Jim Cummings as Pooh and Tigger was a delight. "Christopher Robin" is lovely to look at, and enjoyable enough for its nostalgia, but too often feels like Eeyore wrote and directed.

EPPLER'S RATING: 

"Eighth Grade"  * * * * 1/2

"Christopher Nolan"  * * *

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful  - The worst, an insult to movies

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