The weekend of October 26, Jonah Hill made his long-awaited directorial debut with the A24-produced film, “Mid90s.” Following Stevie, played by Sunny Suljic, a thirteen-year-old living in the grungy suburbs of Los Angeles, Hill’s film addresses the community within skateboarding in a way many films appropriate. He portrays the various stages of adolescence organically, homing in on friendship and a need to belong.
Suljic and his co-stars, professional skateboarders Na-kel Smith, Ryder McLaughlin, Olan Prenatt, and Gio Galicia, carry the heavy narrative on their young backs, igniting the film with friendly banter, boyish humor, and deep pain.
Compelling performances from coming-of-age-movie-favorite Lucas Hedges and Katherine Waterson as Suljic’s mother and brother add depth, but they are not as connectable.
Beyond the skate tricks, underage drinking, smoking, and drug use lies the heart of the film: growing up.
Hill exposes the time in teenager’s lives when they realize their friends are more of a family than siblings and parents without exploiting it. Hill expertly captures the age of exploration and development of personal identity through the natural progression of Suljic’s character, going from timid to near-brash.
Although struck with various plot holes—Ian, Suljic’s on- screen older brother full of unjust rage and a peculiar love for orange juice, his mother’s reserved, selfish behavior, and why Galicia’s character wants to sabotage Stevie’s bonds to the others—they do not distract from the deserved-eminence of the film.
Mid90s is not Ian’s story, their mother’s, or truly any of the other boys, but Stevie’s. As viewers we can justify this to how life is undeniably, sometimes unbearably, hard, and not every painful moment comes with an explanation.
This is not a movie about family dynamics but instead brotherhood, adolescence, and, of course, the feverish need to belong that pervades; no matter your age.
Mid90s is not the feel-good movie of the year and I would be shocked if it were to be nominated for any awards, but it undoubtedly touches the hearts of teenagers everywhere.
The representation of struggle and longing acceptance is universal, even more so if you are one to hang around the skate park.