Follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 1990s-era Los Angeles who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is a partly autobiographical tale of his childhood, taking place in the time period that gives the film its title, and focusing on a 13-year-old aspiring skater. That character, Stevie (played by Sunny Suljic), is I presume the Hill stand in, and over the short runtime of less than 90 minutes we follow Stevie as he finds a group of friends and starts to hang around with them. The film also stars Katherine Waterston as Stevie’s mother, and Lucas Hedges as his older brother, and this is an enjoyable slice of nostalgia from Hill.
‘Mid90s’ is set in a perennially sunny Los Angeles and we’re introduced to the independent Stevie, a young teenager in search of something or someone to get excited about, something he can’t get from his older brother or his mother at home. That changes when he passes a local skateshop and almost instantly develops a passion for the hobby and subsequently becomes part of a group of older friends who hang at the shop. ‘Mid90s’ is a film where on the surface there isn’t a lot of plot, it’s mostly about young people hanging out and growing through these encounters, but its never boring and Sunny Suljic has a remarkable screen presence for someone so young. Hill has recruited Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to write the score, bolstered by an eclectic soundtrack containing the likes of Pixies, Morrissey and a series of 90s hip hop artists, which enhances the nostalgic edge of the film. The film has a real sense of time and place which lends to the authenticity of the experiences of the characters, and alongside Suljic, there are some strong breakout performances from relative newcomers such as Na-Kel Smith, who plays Ray, one of the older group members and a kind of mentor to Stevie.
Jonah Hill will likely go on to make better films in his career as a director, but ‘Mid90s’ is an enjoyable start and I found this to be a fun film to pass the time with.
Directed By: Jonah Hill
Starring: Sunny Suljic, Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges, Gio Galicia, Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Ryder McLaughlin and Alexa Demie