Mid90s: Jonah Hill's Directorial Debut | Review

by - Friday, March 29, 2019


Mid90s is the directorial debut from Jonah Hill and it's almost certainly not what you expect coming from a man so well versed in comedy. It's a dark and gritty exploration of the teens society skips over and how they look after each other when no one else will but it has wit and charm in a way that can only come from a mind that understands comedy the way Hill does.

Sunny Suljic plays Stevie, a troubled 13 year old with a brother (Lucas Hedges) who beats him up on the daily and a mother (Katherine Waterston) who talks to him about her life problems. Finding no inspiration from his older brother, he seeks role models elsewhere and lands on a group of boys outside a skate shop in Los Angeles. In awe of their humour and skating skills he visits the shop the next day and swiftly becomes one of the gang.

Mid90s finds the extraordinary in the seemingly mundane and highlights the life of the people who we don't often see on screen outside of a very specific stereotype. Na-kel Smith had one of the stand out performances as leader of the group, Ray. He was Stevie's main source of inspiration and the picture of an ideal outcome in the world of coming together when there's nowhere else to go, opposed against the pleasantly named "Fuckshit" played by Olan Prenatt who has bundles of talent but is victim to his vices. They mock Fourthgrade for wanting to make movies despite his "fourth-grade" intellect and they have a habit of ignoring Ruben (Gio Galicia) who rapidly grows resentment towards Stevie for skipping the hierarchy quicker than him and yet their bond and love for each other mirrors that of a family.

The 4:3 aspect ratio and grainy quality of picture throws you right back to the 90s. It runs like a documentary, aided by Hill's cast of non professional actors who build a beautifully authentic on-screen relationship together. It felt like the group had a real bond that only comes from years of watching each other take hit after hit. Each character could've had their own movie due the faultless attention to detail by Hill even though the external is often explored deeper than the internal of each individual. Male coming-of-age stories are a dime-a-dozen but this one has something that its comparables do not. Despite its vintage aesthetic it feels entirely contemporary and will transfer perfectly to the people it was made for.

Mid90s has been victim to some incredibly harsh undeserved criticism. Its message and themes are buried deep inside an incredibly complex ensemble cast whose sincerity come from their complete understanding of the narrative without the excess research. It's authentic, it's tough to watch, it's funny, it's an enjoyable 85 minutes and it'll hit home in everyone who was introduced to life on the streets by people of no relation to them. Community and family comes in all different forms and Mid90s tackles one form the very best way it can.


Mid90s skates into UK Cinemas April 4th 2019.

Until next time

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