Bo Burnham's directorial debut Eighth Grade has received accolades for its authentic depiction of teen life — yet many of the people who could take the most away from the movie won't be able to see it. That's because Eighth Grade — a film told from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl that contains zero violence of graphic imagery — received an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). According to The BFI a US R rating means 'restricted', i.e. no-one under 16 can be admitted to the cinema unless accompanied by an adult.
Yet there is hope for young people to see this movie in the US, without having to sneak in. That's because A24, the production company behind Eighth Grade, is hosting free screenings for the film, ones which will not enforce ratings restrictions.
The free screenings will take place on Wednesday, August 8, and will be held at theatres all across America. The New York screening, for example, will take place at Brooklyn's Alamo Drafthouse, while Los Angeles will have its screening at the Hollywood Arclight.
Director Burnham took to Twitter to share the big news, while also calling upon kids, specifically, to come see the movie.
"Since Eighth Grade is rated R and that’s sort of stupid we’re doing free screenings in every state this Wednesday with no ratings enforced. Come watch, kids!"
Eighth Grade's R rating — which locks most young people out of the theatre unless they attend a screening with a parent of guardian — was recently called out by IndieWire. The reason that Eighth Grade earned such a strict rating is its use of "sexually-derived expletives" — in this case, the f-bomb. While PG-13 movies can utter the expletive once, any more than that and the film receives an automatic R. Characters in Eighth Grade also mention oral sex (though it is only discussed and never actually acted upon), which strengthened the argument for the film's R rating.
It's disappointing that Eighth Grade received such a restrictive rating. After all, the film accurately represents the lives of newly-minted teens who, yes, sometimes do use foul language. (The horror!) Unfortunately, fighting the MPAA is a hard-won battle (check out the movie This Film Is Not Yet Rated to learn about filmmakers who have made the attempt) and, for now, Eighth Grade's rating holds up.
It's fortunate that, in this case, A24 is doing what they can to reach the movie's real audience: the young people for whom the movie will likely matter the most.
A UK release date has been announced.