Updated: Sep 10, 2020
“Mid90s” (2018) written & directed by Jonah Hill
“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.”
You might like this if you like: Jonah Hill, skateboarding, old school hip-hop, MTV's "Jackass", "Superbad" (2007), "Kids" (1995), dark comedies, comedies, dramas, coming-of-age stories
I remember waiting for years before this film came out. I knew Jonah was planning his directorial debut and I counted down the days until the trailer, then the days until the premiere. I had luckily gotten tickets for my fiancé and I to see Jonah Hill and the cast speak and do a Q&A for an early screening of the film. We saw it at the Cinerama Dome at the Arclight in Los Angeles which just made it all the more EPIC.
Lucas Hedges (left), Sunny Suljic (middle) & Jonah Hill (right) in the behind the scenes of "Mid90s" (2018)
I saw the film multiple times afterwards and immediately got the Blu-Ray as soon as it was released. It’s probably my favorite film of 2018 and might even make my top ten. Being as big a Jonah Hill fan as I am there was little room for disappointment. Knowing his influences and deep love for classic hip hop (much like myself) and skateboarding as well as the MTV/Jackass/Big Brother era I was already sold and excited.
The fact that he had hired primarily non-actors for the leading roles was another enticing aspect I couldn’t resist. The trailer pulled me in with the beautiful sampling of "After Laughter (Comes Tears)" playing and transitioning into Wu-Tang’s “Tearz” and then slipping into Blnko’s “Kiero”. And that A24 in-camera logo? Dude, YES. I was so ready.
The cast of "Mid90s" (2018)
While watching the film all I could think was how perfectly it captured that time in your life when you find those group of friends of people that start to feel more like family than family. Wanting to fit in and grow up too fast. It felt like my early teens captured on screen. I was big into the skating culture (much like Jonah) but wasn’t a great skater (also much like Jonah). I adored the MTV style of things, especially “Jackass” which was extremely influential and I consider almost a film school in how to capture unplanned moments with a camera and how to get coverage. Seriously. “Jackass” is arguably the best shot documentary I’ve ever seen and one of the greatest film schools you could attend. Tony Hawk Pro Skater and Big Brother magazine were another influence on both Jonah and I but the biggest connection I had with the film was its love and appreciation for the golden era of hip-hop and even the age preceding it.
Alexa Demie (left) & Sunny Suljic (right) in "Mid90s" (2018)
This is the first time I’ve ever heard Big L used on the screen. I introduced my entire friend group to this artist. One of the best rappers of all time. Heard Jonah Hill talk about him back in 2011 during promotion for his film “The Sitter” (2011). Gang Starr pays homage to Big L in his intro to “Full Clip”. I was so excited to hear him in a big theater and on screen for the first time. It was like hearing KRS-One for the first time on screen in “This Is The End” (2013). KRS-One, Big L, The GZA, Big Daddy Kane and Method Man are my favorite hip hop artists of all time. One of the greatest soundtracks of a film I’ve ever heard including one of the best original scores by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Sunny Suljic (left) & Na-kel Smith (right) in "Mid90s" (2018)
The film only broadened my love for actors Lucas Hedges and Alexa Demie (this was pre “Euphoria” for me). I was so impressed with the kids in this film especially Sunny Suljic as the lead. The idea to cast talented skaters and train them to be actors worked so well for this film. I loved it. The skating comes through beautifully in the picture. One scene in particular where Na-kel Smith’s character takes the time to build a new board for Sunny Suljic’s characters is gorgeous. The meaning behind the scene and the way it was executed. There’s too many things I love about this film. Every sequence haunts me with beauty. The shot of them skating down the hill to the Mamas & The Papas is cinema at its best. So much talented and passionate work involved with this project. Many and major props to EVERYONE involved!
I CANNOT wait to see what Jonah Hill does next. Thank you for one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in a theater and even at home on my TV screen many, many times.
Written by Sam Gall on 08/15/20
CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0
Rent for $3.99 Buy for $7.99:
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