Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, takes us back to the middle of the 1990s with a look at life for one teenager’s summer in LA.
Stevie (Sunny Suljic) lives with his older, abusive brother Ian (Lucas Hedges, appearing in 3 films at TIFF), and single mom, Dabney (Katherine Waterston). Stevie’s world opens up when he discovers a skate shop. It’s soon thereafter that the teenager meets a new crop of friends. Among them are Ruben (Gio Galicia), Ray (Na-kel Smith), wannabe filmmaker Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin), and the ever-so-vulgar Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt).
While I realize that the film takes place during the mid-90s, the frequent use of slurs seem to be a bit too much. It’s not only that but you have someone like Ruben telling Stevie that saying “thank you” means you’re gay. Just working from memory, Ruben was likely the source of the film’s many slurs. Most of which were homophobic in nature. I’m sorry but it’s one thing if you want to use a few of them to set the tone. It’s a whole different animal if you want to make a full film out of this. Sure, another skater, Ray, tells Stevie that Reuben is wrong but it’s all a bit much for my tastes. With the way that Hill writes the film, Ray becomes the film’s “magical negro.” Seriously, Jonah? What the hell were you even thinking?!?
If this wasn’t troublesome enough, Stevie finds himself alone at a party with a girl, Estee (Alexa Demie). Estee is maybe two years older than him while Demie’s age is unknown. She invites him into a bedroom at the party and makes out with him. There’s more than that, too. Wish fulfillment fantasy, maybe? But like with Dabney, the women in this film are so horribly written that it’s just not funny.
The film stays true to the era in which it represents as far as the sound is concerned. It may be one of the few positive things I say about it it. Thank you, Trent Rezor and Atticus Ross.
I’m a fan of Jonah Hill’s acting work so I went into Mid90s wanting to like the film. It didn’t take long while sitting in the theater before realizing that it would not be a pleasant experience. Try going through elementary and middle school–when the film takes place–while constantly being teased with the F word. I get that Hill is trying to depict this skater life in LA but it doesn’t make these words any less hurtful.
Mid90s won’t be for everyone. If you don’t like watching films with racism, sexism, and homophobia, it’s best to pass.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Jonah Hill
CAST: Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Na-kel Smith, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin, Alexa Demie, Olan Prenatt, and Katherine Waterston