Written and directed by Jonah Hill, “Mid90s” follows the story of 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic) and the antics which ensue when he starts hanging out with a group of older skater kids.
In a deeper context, the film looks at a boy struggling with an abusive older brother (Lucas Hedges) and a terrible home life, who’s desperately attempting to find friends to combat the trauma he endures. “Mid90s” takes place against the backdrop of mid-1990s California; the strength of this setting represents the best aspect of the film.
Escapism is key in any movie, and what “Mid90s” offers is a complete recreation of the ‘90s down to every prop and costume piece. The film is consistent in how it captures the world: it’s grungy, raw and not always politically correct, but that’s how the mid ‘90s were.
The soundtrack only enhances the ‘90s feel. Rather than dominate the dialogue, the R&B beats lightly underscore the entire film, providing the general energetic tone. It leaves viewers encapsulated by the skaters’ music taste, yet still able to see the movie as an overall comprehensive depiction of the era.
The film markets itself as a comedy, but the actors’ performances balance it out with genuine moments of drama and agony. The film is holistically believable, which only adds to the purity of the setting and candidness of the characters.
In light of the good, there are some serious flaws with the movie. After rising to prominence in movies such as “Superbad” and “21 Jump Street,” Hill made his directorial debut, and it’s important to keep in mind while seeing this movie. The filmmaking of “Mid90s” is very amateur, with its flaws not relating to the story itself but rather the film’s production.
The movie’s pacing is messy, with its exposition being way too long for a film totaling just over 80 minutes. While the scenes are beautiful, the opening act dragged and lacked a sense of usefulness. With so much of the time being spent introducing the storyline and characters, the action of the film felt rushed, while the conclusion didn’t feel totally satisfying since not all plot points were fully addressed.
The film’s cinematography is also hit or miss. Shots are occasionally blurry or out of focus, and while they can add to the rawness of the film, they come across as a mistake in editing rather than style preference.
This film is begging the audience to recognize it’s a low-budget production, and although its honesty is appreciated, there are plenty of filmmaking errors which could’ve been fixed at little to no cost before the movie was released.
Looking for a Blockbuster style flick? This wouldn’t be a good recommendation.
This is for someone looking for an indie coming-of-age movie, and it truly provides one of the better opportunities to see a worthwhile story. If anything, see it for the passion the actors and director put into the film, or for the amazing soundtrack that underlines the tone of the movie. Even if one goes in only expecting those little things, they will come out with much more.
“Mid90s” isn’t just for teenagers or nostalgic adults. It’s one of the few movies that strikes a chord with a broad audience.
Rated R, “Mid90s” is now playing in theaters nationwide.