Jonah Hill's directorial debut, how'd it go?
Mid90s is Jonah Hill’s directorial debut and it’s a surprisingly emotional film. Upon hearing about the film, and watching the first 30 minutes, I assumed the film was nothing more than a film about skating, a nostalgic call back to Hill’s childhood. It is much more. Hill, who wrote the script as well as directing, steers away from the type of comedy you’d expect given his acting career, instead opting for more subtle chuckles rather than cringe induced belly laughs.
The world he creates feels real, the attention to detail in the set and costume design has to be given credit for this. It transports a group of actors largely unfamiliar with the era, and likely some audience members as well, due to their age to competent different time.
"Hill explores far more than just skater culture"
While character development takes somewhat of a back seat, the narrative is compelling, Hill explores far more than just skater culture, there’s some light social commentary and highlighting of previous social norms, such as attitudes to domestic violence and use of derogatory language. The characters feel fleshed out, to an extent, for some this comes through light exposition but this only illuminates their actions we have already witnessed in a different light.
The young cast are brilliant, Sunny Suljic is fantastic as the lead and Na-Kel Smith offers a nice counter balance to the more exuberant Olan Prenatt, in his role as Fuckshit. That being said, I couldn’t help but want to see more of Katherine Waterston, her mother characters pops in and out of the narrative, often with only a few lines in each scene, so it feels like her character is often pushed to the side, perhaps victims of the tight 1 hour 25 minutes runtime.
It’s a strong directorial debut, the film gave me a sense of nostalgic about a decade i never lived. The ending feels abrupt, however, and leaves you wondering about what the final message is, perhaps one of the value of friendship, or placing greater belief in others, but vagueness is not always a bad thing.
"So god damn likeable"
The film has such an incredible charm, impressive due to its relatively short runtime, and we are really allowed to connect with characters. Characters who are far more perfect, each damaged in their own way, particularly Stevie, Fuckshit and Ian. Stevie’s arch breaks convention, he does not become an incredible skater or some cult hero, he stays a kid, which is nice. But, the plot line related to his self harm seems to slip away relatively unresolved, or resolved extremely quickly as a result of a short exchange with Ray.
Overall, the films undeniable charm makes it so god damn likeable. Jonah Hill shows real promise and maturity in this new career venture, which is exciting. Although not groundbreaking, Mid90s feels unique. It’s aesthetic transports the audience, despite telling a universal story, which bodes well for the films longevity. 7.5/10