“Mid90s” Review: Jonah Hill’s directorial debut presents a visceral, yet heartwarming coming-of-age story

Skateboarding, hip-hop and “The Breakfast Club” collide in this ‘90s tribute.

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Adam Pigott, Freelance Writer

Jonah Hill started developing “Mid90s” four years ago, and all the time and effort has definitely paid off. Hill has solidified himself as a hilarious force in the film industry with his roles in modern comedies such as “Superbad,” “21 Jump Street” and “Wolf of Wall Street.” However, what differentiates “Mid90s” from his previous body of work is that this time, he is behind the camera instead of in front of it, giving us a look at his impressive directorial side.

MIX OF HUMOR AND DRAMA

If you blended “Looking for Alaska,” “The Breakfast Club,” skateboarding and old school hip-hop, your product would be “Mid90s.” The film mixes moments of raunchy humor and moderate sadness into an impressive coming-of-age story. The main character is a 13-year-old boy named Stevie, portrayed by Sunny Suljic, who lives in a broken home in Los Angeles, finally finding an earnest group of friends who cultivate his passion for skateboarding. The film packs plenty of jokes into it, providing an enjoyable and light-hearted time, but it also presents many emotional moments.

Hill takes note of different human emotions, igniting them by showing Stevie’s unstable life between two worlds, caught between his abusive family and chilled-out friends. The film also aims for the heart by showing the positive and negative mindsets of each character. Passion, determination, hopelessness, recklessness and coming-of-age insecurity are present in the different characters.

PERSONAL CONNECTION

Hill stated in an interview that one of the biggest reasons he decided to set the film in the ‘90s was because interaction was more more personal.

“When I was growing up in the ’90s, we didn’t have cell phones,” Hill said in an interview with the Thrillist. “So what it allowed for was these real connected and intimate conversations to take place.”

There were several intimate, sometimes uncomfortable conversations and jokes made throughout the film. The lack of cell phones forces the characters to engage in these conversations regardless of their comfort. As Stevie becomes more connected with his skate friends, he learns more about their lives and what they have gone through. The film sneaks in the message that while an individual may be going through a difficult time in solidarity, they are eventually forced to recognize the reality that everyone has their own battle to fight.

THE SOUNDTRACK

Hill implements a unique mix of ‘90s hip-hop throughout the film, presenting the songs from his childhood. It features music from A Tribe Called Quest, Souls of Mischief and Wu-Tang Clan, contributing a “‘90s feel” to the film, making it more vibrant and real.

Final Thoughts

“Mid90s” paints a perfect picture of ‘90s LA with Jonah Hill’s unique vision. Whether it is the soundtrack, the skateboarding, the lack of cell phones or the the humor, it is clear that “Mid90s” is not just an excellent ‘90s tribute, but it is also an impressive film. It shows fans that Jonah Hill can do so much more than just act.

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