Title – Mid90s (2018)
Director – Jonah Hill (feature debut)
Cast – Sunny Suljic, Na-kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston
Plot – 13 year old Stevie (Suljic) finds his life changing after joining up with a ragtag skate crew during the height of the skateboarding craze in 1994 Los Angeles.
“That’s why we ride a piece of wood, like, what that does to somebody’s spirit”
Review by Eddie on 30/04/2019
From an auspicious early start in low-brow comedies such as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Grandma’s Boy, Accepted and Knocked Up, to comedy lead in classic Superbad and onto Oscar nominated turns in Moneyball and Wolf of Wall Street, the career trajectory of Jonah Hill is quite a ride, that at the mere age of 35, isn’t going to be over any time soon.
Taking the next big step in his impressive and building career, Hill has stepped behind the camera and in the writers chair to deliver his feature film debut, a likable, unique and nostalgic trip back to a time gone by with the coming of age skater-centric dramedy Mid90s.
A small-scale film that focuses on the human elements, as we follow Sunny Suljic’s 13 year old Stevie’s movement into teenage hood and the then booming skateboarding scene that was prevalent across the world and in his home town of Los Angeles, Mid90s shows that Hill is not just a comedy one-trick pony as he instills his passion project with a heart and soul, that while not revelatory, acts as an extremely impressive calling card for the new phase of Hill’s career.
One particular aspect of Mid90s that is a massive win for Hill and in turn the audience is his ability to well and truly transport us back to the time and place in which Stevie’s life-defining friendships and learnings take place.
Filmed in a grainy and home-made like 4:3 aspect ratio, that is very much of the time and filmed in a way that takes the City of Angels back to this era, Mid90s will be like a trip down memory lane for many, where Wu-Tang Clan ruled the world, Etnies was clothing brand of choice, Playstation was a novelty and Bevis and Butthead were a staple of youth’s TV intake.
Being 11 at the time Mid90s takes place, its clear Hill has personal experience in this particular moment of history and his direction of Suljic and other members of his friendship group such as Na-Kel Smith as the charismatic Ray and Ryder McLaughlin as the slow witted Fourth Grade, is first rate, suggesting Hill has the ability to unearth his actors potential through keen direction and attention to detail.
It’s a breezy, fun and sometimes confronting ride (some scenes will be hard to stomach for viewers, with Hill not holding back from throwing Stevie into some rather adult situations), that’s scored with a dreamlike intensity from Nine Inch Nail musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and while narratively Mid90s doesn’t reach great heights over its brisk 80 minute run-time, there’s enough here to highly recommend Hill’s debut as a film worthy of your time.
Final Say –
The next career leap for the ever-evolving Jonah Hill, Mid90s is a nostalgic trip back to a time and place many of us would remember well that also features a great turn from the up and coming Suljic. On the basis of this effort we should all be excited for what Hill has install for us next.
3 ½ Ren and Stimpy t-shirts out of 5