Review: 'Mid90s', Jonah Hill's Directorial Debut Starring Sunny Suljic And Lucas Hedges

As we get toward the end of the twenty-tens it feels like the nostalgia for the nineties is growing stronger,even as the time for2000s nostalgia looms great. With middle age staring many in the face it’s time for filmmakers to look back on past times just like others have before withGeorge Lucas’ American Graffiti, or The Wedding Singer, and even a later film like Adventureland. Jonah Hill who rose to fame as a teen actor in the 2000s puts his talents behind thecamera for his first film looking back on the things and feelings he had of his childhood in the mid-1990s.

Mid90s is about a young kid named Stevie (Sunny Suljic), growing up in LA with his single mom Dabney and his mean older brother Ian. Even though Ian is a complete and utter abusive asshole to Stevie, Stevie still looks up to his brother. Stevie ends up enamored with a skate shop and the teens who hang out and work there. He ends up getting into their clique through the youngest member Ruben and soon is taking a liking to by the whole group especially the older members Dab and Fuckshit. From there the young Stevie now christened Sunburn falls into the life of these skater kids who are much older. He ends up failing at hard skating tricks, smoking and drinking and all types of partying. This puts Stevie on a path that destabilizes his home life as he doesn’t take to the abuse by his brother and puts a serious strain on his relationship with his mother as she tries to figure out what’s going on with her sweet baby boy.

Hill made a movie that is very good at grasping the feeling of the 90s. Not the early 90s that you’d think was Fresh Prince stylings and Zack Morris looks but that time of baggy clothing, fashion label logos, SNES controllers and the beginning of the PlayStation era. You never know the year this is supposed to take place but you never really care much. This time before mobile phones and before the internet was really popping for folks. This movie is very much a love letter to Hip Hop music of that time and for Skating. I’m not an expert on skating but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a film that handles the subject matter well of that time of skating when Tony Hawk was king. Jonah Hill does a good job with his directing and most of the interactions of the kid actors feel natural and almost improvised. The cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt does a good job here with the look of the film, sun-drenched and warm and also at times have a great blurry feel that adds to Stevie’s adventure as he’s dealing with being 13 and coming into his own. Nick Houy, the editor cuts the film in places that reminds you a bit like old skate videos and has a sequence at the end that was very interesting in how it captured a major moment. The final standout is the use music, this is a rap nerd’s soundtrack – DJ Premiere, Wu-Tang, Tha Pharcyde and much more weaves its way through the film dragging you, the viewer along with this air of memories of those times you were most likely listening to these songs on Discman grooving along to your summers or endless days and nights. Or you can try and live on your imagination of what those times were like through this movie if you’re too young or too old. If Hill can continue with films like this then he’ll be something to watch in the future.

3.5 out of 5