Thursday, November 1, 2018

Movie Review: "Mid90s" (2018)

mid90s 2018 movie poster jonah hill sunny suljic
Image Source
Director: Jonah Hill
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

A young kid with problems at home befriends a group of skaters kids and, for better or worse, heads down a path into the 90's skating subculture.

mid90s 2018 movie still Sunny Suljic Na-Kel Smith
"I'm a junior in high school. It's not like I'm not gonna get into Harvard or nothin'." (Image Source)
The world is their skate park. "Mid90's" is the feature film directorial debut of Jonah Hill, who is best known as an actor, having been in films like "Superbad," "The Wolf of Wall Street," and "21 Jump Street." Hill has also been a writer on numerous comedies, but for the first time, he is applying his skills to writing a drama. The film centers on a young boy named Stevie (Sunny Suljic), who is living in Los Angeles. He is constantly bullied by his older brother (Lucas Hedges), is often left alone because his single mom (Katerine Waterston) has to work, and doesn't seem to have a lot of friends. One day, Stevie sees a group of skaters playing and hanging out in front of a store and thinks they are so cool that he wants to be part of their action. He gets an old board and starts to teach himself to skate.  He hovers around the skate shop as he watched them from afar at first, but then gets in with the gang and they start to hang out together. Stevie's friendships with the members of this group introduce him to new things like the skating subculture in 90's Los Angeles, which, unfortunately, includes drinking alcohol, doing drugs, and having an irreverence towards authority. 
mid90s 2018 movie still Sunny Suljic Na-Kel Smith Olan Prenatt Ryder McLaughlin
"Sick, Sunburn can take a fuckin' slam." (Image Source)
Jonah Hill offers up an honest coming-of-age story about a few extremely flawed characters in "Mid90s." It gives what we think is a realistic look into the street skating subculture that was prominent in the mid-90's, as well as the "what, me worry?" attitude of late Gen-Xers and early Millennials of an era populated by latchkey kids who were often left without supervision. While the actors who make up Stevie's family are all veterans, the ones playing his friends Ray (Na-Kel Smith), Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin) are all first-time actors and real skateboarders. Despite their lack of experience, we think they do a great job selling their characters. Still, "Mid90's" will not appeal to viewers across the board since Stevie's character arc basically takes him from "sweet child who loves his mom and never gets in trouble" to "rebellious child who dabbles in drugs, drinking, and sexual activity while thumbing his nose at authority" because he followed the example of his friends. Though his gang of skater boys doesn't seem like a great bunch, despite their flaws, their constant mistakes, and their criminal activity, they are all shown to be loyal and are there for their new little bud, affectionately called "Sunburn," when it counts. One final note: technically speaking, the film is shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is done to capture the feel of the era. This touch went a long way with us because it really feels like it was made in the 1990's. 
mid90s 2018 movie still Lucas Hedges Sunny Suljic
"You're such a fuckin' little kid." (Image Source)
"Mid90s" will appeal to a small niche crowd of those who either lived during this time period or were/are skaters. Regardless, we think this is a well-made, nostalgic film and a valiant first-time directing effort by Jonah Hill. Thanks in large part to an endearing (less so over time) performance by Sunny Suljic and some really great technical aspects, we recommend checking this one out.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.8/10
RT Rating: ~77%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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