By: Mohamed Ibrahim
“Mid90s” tells a classic coming-of-age story with a backdrop of skateboarding and hip-hop in this nostalgic teen drama. With a brief runtime of 84 minutes, the film is intentionally light on plot but focuses on the relationships between characters, putting the group of teens and their dynamic center-stage.
In Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, a 13-year-old kid named Stevie (played by Sunny Suljic) growing up in 1990s Los Angeles deals with a home life that includes an overwhelmed single mother (Katherine Waterston) and an abusive older brother (Lucas Hedges). Stevie finds solace from his situation when he walks into a skate shop and is instantly enamored with the dynamic between the teenagers who hang out there. Stevie learns how to skate, joins the group, and climbs to the top of the hierarchy through a variety of stunts. That includes literal stunts (like attempting a trick that they all know he can’t land), drug use, and sexual exploits, all used as social currency and a means of elevating one’s status.
The film doesn’t make itself out to be an authority on the culture but rather pays homage to it, showcasing Hill’s point of view and its influence on his own childhood. It’s also yet another success in the comedic actor-turned-writer/director phenomenon that gave us “A Quiet Place” (written and directed by The Office’s John Krasinski) earlier this year. “Mid90s” is a promising debut as Hill continues to round out his filmography as a director in the years to come.