Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid90s is a sensational blast from the past. It is a triumphant debut for Hill as he creates wonderful realism of both emotion and character while at the same time evoking the two from the viewer. It’s an incredible watch that lies dormant in your mind days afterwards. While certain other films that leave a mark are better left unvisited, Mid90s is surely one to come back to time and time again.
From a direction perspective, this film is exquisitely well crafted, making sure that the visual style feels like it could have been professionally filmed in the 90s. It plays off of a scripted documentary based around fictional characters and the brilliant preciseness of the setting to make it all appear so undeniably realistic. Jonah Hill has come out of the gate running, knowing exactly how long his film should be and how to properly format it to make for the most unexpected cinematic experience. The skating, the intimate talks, the neglect from one side to the other are all beautifully filmed and captures the realism of these characters slowly building bond as Stevie (Sunny Suljic) just tries to find a “family.”
A young kid trying to belong, Stevie takes it upon himself after a lifetime of abuse from his brother to find himself a group of friends he can call “family.” Desperate as he is, he chooses the first cool kids he sees and starts learning their hobby, skateboarding, only to join them awkwardly. Luckily for him they welcome him in with cautious arms but little does he know that the pack of friends he just joined may not all be the best influences for the young boy. Hardship and trouble comes his way when he tries his hardest to impress, and he soon embraces the group’s bad habits while becoming someone he never was just to feel like he belongs. It’s a powerful story that is easily relatable to myself as I personally have attempted to change myself to relate to a group of friends only to fail miserably. This film hits hard in a nostalgic way, and I’m sure it des for many viewers as well. Jonah Hill’s pacing for his first script is phenomenal, not slowing down for a second and letting you get the impact of the happenings on screen in full effect, making the events of the film much more shocking as it moves forward.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Beside from a few established actors here and there, the film is fueled by its refreshingly new talent and it’s an astonishing feat to have this film be so grand with actors with such little experience. With the talent of Academy Nominated Lucas Hedges playing the brutal brother of Stevie, who seems to take out all his anger towards the world on his little brother in extremely brutal ways, combined with brand new actors making their way in the scene, it’s a special film; this is namely for the absence of poor acting quality. The dialogue feels real as if I was there, and while much of the dialogue feels close to the way we speak today, 90s dialect was spoken with much more ease than today’s standards. Mid90s is a genuine love anthem to the 90s and I love it with a passion. While I myself may not have experienced the decade as portrayed in the film, I still found comfort in the ways of several decades ago. Jonah Hill should be enormously proud of his work and especially of his writing.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have done it once again, creating a powerful centerpiece for this wonderful film, while unbelievably emphasizing on the brutal tone of affection, betrayal, and criticism of youth culture. The sound effects strive to capture the essence of the 90s with every noise coming off as authentic as possible. One of the most satisfying qualities of the film is Mid90s’ skateboard effects, as every trick, mishap or successful land managed to bring a certain aesthetic to the entire film and the era it’s duplicating. The noises of the film made me briefly want to be one or two of the characters successfully performing but then soon realize with other crafted noises that the era wasn’t always the most flawless decade.
As stated in an interview with Ellen Degeneres, he made sure that everything was in its proper place to really encapsulate the nature of the 90s. Whether it be a set they filmed on or a real exterior location, everything seems tightly managed in each shot, never giving even a peak at the decades to come while keeping the audience 100% focused on the world he’s recreated. The makeup is stupendous, as with every bully hit, skating fail, or drunken stupor being given such enormous care and really showcasing the realistic injuries on screen. One nod in particular to the makeup department is the wonderful blood effect that a skater wears after a brutal injury that is assisted with brutal makeup design to make it much more rancid. Hats off to the entire team involved with both makeup and set design, as you have outdone yourselves with this feature!
Hill’s obvious love for the decade and his clearly drawn out characters build themselves into something recognizable yet sensational. The conflicts that happen between family rather it be blood or friend, are all brilliant instances of the realities of humanity. Everything about Mid90s is a mesmerizing sight to behold as every second makes you believe you are in this time with them, skating and hanging around. I was never a skater, and when I tried I failed immediately and never had the courage to get back on, but the courage this kid has in this film as he triumphs through all his troubles with his ability to skate and make friends along the way is one that I truly wish I had the will to try to accomplish. Don’t sit around and let this film pass you by, go see Mid90s and be welcomed back into the decade with open arms.