Fall. Get Back Up.
Having been a fan of everything Jonah Hill has touched or starred-in, needless to say I was incredibly excited to see his directorial debut. “Mid90s” follows the life of Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a young, teenage boy as he navigates his day-to-day struggle of entering his adolescence. His life at home is abusive; his brother Ian (Lucas Hedges) beats on him constantly and his mom (Katherine Waterston) is the only support figure in his life. Just when he feels there’s no escape, he meets a group of young and old kids at the local skate shop. Ray (Na-kel Smith), Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin). All of these boys love skateboarding and help Stevie discover a new passion in his life. While his emotional state improves, his at-home life only worsens; his relationship with his mom frays and him and his brother’s becomes toxic. Over time, the activities and fun progress from just skateboarding to smoking, drinking, and taking the early steps towards adulthood and Stevie is completely unprepared for the consequences.
While the rest of the film handles all of the drama and fallout, it’s the raw nature of its events that mark the film’s crowning achievement. While the events are often to-the-extreme and clichéd, they serve to tell the story and portray a strong, beautiful message. This message is so carefully and expertly delivered due to the stripped-away performances in the film. Hill wanted mostly non-professional actors for “Mid90s” and the result is astounding. The newcomers show their potential, but Suljic shows he is a name to watch for and Hedges continues to prove that he is a rising star and one of the best of his generation. While Hill is probably responsible for getting the authenticity out of his stars, “Mid90s” would not be anywhere near the caliber of film it is if it wasn’t for his actors. Another strongpoint of the film is its setting. Clearly embraced by his own youth, “Mid90s” is filled with nostalgia for those familiar with the era. I was able to connect-with so much throughout the film; not so much the at-home life but some of the interaction with new friends, entry into adolescence, and the skateboarding element of the film. One scene in-particular reminded me of a similar time with my friends (not to mention how the film reminded me how much I hated putting-on grip tape).
The film is also fueled by 90s music, especially hip-hop; as Hill stated that he wrote each scene with a certain song in-mind. All of the songs are expertly-placed and the inclusions are so artfully done, as neither ever seem in-your-face or gratuitous and only serve to add increased authenticity and heart to the film. At 84 minutes, “Mid90s” is a brisk film, but it flies at a constant pace with its in-depth realism and heart. It is almost shocking how raw and emotional the film is; not only do you care about the characters, but you find yourself connecting-with them and reminiscing about your past. With his debut, Hill should be universally-praised for his outstanding achievement on “Mid90s”! The film feels incredibly authentic and the performances are raw and emotional. It comes as no surprise, as A24 continues their run of cinematic marvel yet again! I cannot urge you strongly enough to check out “Mid90s”, especially if you’re a 90s kid like myself!
MID90S is rated R for pervasive language, sexual content, drug and alcohol use, some violent behavior/disturbing images – all involving minors, in theaters OCTOBER 26TH!