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Eighth graders can see ‘Eighth Grade’ with rating-free screenings

A24 will screen Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade free of charge across the U.S. on August 8 – and free of its constrictive R rating. 

Until now, actual eighth graders couldn’t see the searingly raw and empathetic film about adolescence, but Wednesday’s screenings will make it accessible in all 50 states.

Eighth Grade‘s R rating won’t have jumped out at older moviegoers who don’t have to worry about that sort of thing, but it points to bigger problems with the Motion Picture Association of America and its archaic and often arbitrary rating system. Eighth Grade earns its R because of a few errant f-bombs; sorry to say, MPAA, but that’s no more than most teens are used to hearing daily.

One of the most heartbreaking but realistic parts of the film is how cruel teenagers can often be while dealing with school, body image, and bubbling sexuality – oh, and the ever-present pressure to seem cool. That’s hard to do authentically without some colorful language. There is dialogue about sex, blowjobs, and digital nude selfies – all of which should raise more alarm than a four-letter word – and all of which, again, teens already hear and talk about. 

With free unrated screenings, A24 stands ready to spread the kinder message at the film’s core, sold by its remarkable lead, Elsie Fisher. It’s been compared to The Breakfast Club, another film with an adult rating that ended up being vital to generations of teenagers.

It’s not as rebellious as breaking the rules, and it doesn’t overhaul the MPAA system, but rating-free Eighth Grade screenings are a chance for cinema – and this one film in particular – to do what it does best: Tell a story, and tell it fucking well. 

For showtimes and tickets for Eighth Grade special screenings, click here.

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