Critic Consensus: Mid90s tells a clear-eyed yet nostalgic coming-of-age tale that might mark the start of an auspicious new career for debuting writer-director Jonah Hill.
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Critic Reviews for Mid90s
If Superbad launched an entire subgenre that mocks male insecurity, Mid90s reveals, almost tenderly, the devastation of trying to hide it.
The drama is heartfelt but thin; despite some sharp and swift dialogue, the characters are bound to a defining trait or two, and there's little sense of style to lift the action past obvious intentions.
It's hard to tell if Hill is boldly refusing to adopt a point of view regarding dysfunction and its discontents, or if he just isn't quite sure what to make of it.
For most of the ride, Mid90s feels like an accurate time capsule - and a relatable journey even if you've never been on a skateboard in your life.
At just 84 minutes, "Mid90s" feels brief, like a sketch rather than a full painting. But Hill is finding his footing, landing one trick at a time, and he's off to a strong start.
Audience Reviews for Mid90s
This film is like a poor man's Wolf of Wall Street, both in that it is not as great of a film, but also is a smaller scale film about literally poorer characters. Jonah Hill does a good job keeping the feel of film very casual, and the characters, through all of their flaws, end up being likeable. The story feels like it just spins without cause until it comes to stop, but the ride is pretty fun nonetheless.
Jonah Hill's directing debut is a small slice of 90s cinema that's heavy on sense of time and place, light on plot, but filled with youthful authenticity. We follow a young kid (10? 12?) as he ingratiates himself with a group of older teen skaters. He wants to emulate these cool kids and dedicates himself to being a skateboarder. There are some intra-group conflicts and jealousies that play out as our protagonist becomes part of the gang. He gets exposed to smoking, drinking, and girls at house parties. There is one sequence at a party where a teen girl (15? 16?) takes our young hero into a bedroom to deflower him, and I instantly became anxious and needed to know the ages of the characters onscreen (it's never verified). Our main character also happens to be one of the more boring people in the film, almost by design. He's a blank page for the audience to project onto, and he's trying so hard at such a formative age to emulate the older teens that it makes sense to leave him less defined. Hill hired professional skateboarders and taught them acting, and they act like professional skateboarders. In fairness, they act like recognizable teenagers, and Hill's natural ear for dialogue rings true for this time of life. The movie takes a few turns into After School Special territory but doesn't seem to deal with the consequences or resolutions of those dramatic events, which makes the film feel both more realistic and less fulfilling. Our hero takes a lot of injuries, some of them bleeding-head related, but nothing seems to come from them except the growing admiration of his peers. The home life storyline is worrisome and vague. Our protagonist has a physically abusive older brother (Lucas Hedges) who resents him and a single mother (Katherine Waterston) who seems irresponsible in not doing something about her youngest son being gone well into the morning hours. Even our protagonist seems to have penchant for self-harm, something that will presumably lead to problems down the line. In the meantime, mid90s is a pleasant and mostly entertaining, seemingly autobiographical experience. It gets by on enough for a watch. Nate's Grade: B
(Refreshed sigh.) God. That felt good. Mid 90's is a straightforward drama about a group of down-and-out skateboarding kids, struggling to live Los Angeles. They party, get into fights, smoke, drink, play video games, and get injured. A lot. It focuses on a 13-year-old boy (played with aplomb by Sunny Suljic) as he tries to overcome his introversion and is initiated into this older, cooler social circle away from his broken home and low social prospects at the school he attends. This is the directorial debut of Jonah Hill and his inaugural effort is relatively restrained. It appears shot on a low resolution, handheld camera of the era, but I suspect that this is merely a visual trick or a filter. It works. The small-scale microfocus narrative calls to mind Dazed and Confused, and much like that cult classic it does not idealize the era it is set in. (Unlike say, Stranger Things which treats the 80's with glossy-eyed nostalgia.) Reminiscence is not on Mid 90's mind - it's merely an interesting backdrop to an unflinchingly realistic coming-of-age story. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide the score and it's quite good as one would expect, but it is the eclectic soundtrack with its mix of multi-decade pop/rock and 90's era hip hop that steals the show. Like its characters Mid 90's keeps its ambitions limited, but attains them so effortlessly you might overlook the craft involved here. A24 has delivered the goods once again and I charge you with the task of honoring them.
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