Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsTIFF 2018: Mid90s Review

Keith NoakesSeptember 10, 2018

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

Synopsis:Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA 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. (a24)

Starring: Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, and Katherine Waterston

Writer: Jonah Hill

Director: Jonah Hill

Rating: n/a

Running Time: 84mins


It kind of makes you feel old when a film based in the 1990s is considered a period piece but here we are. It was a simpler time for sure and its depiction of said decade, from the look to the people, was what really puts this over the top. People who have seen any of the trailers have already gotten a glimpse its look. This film looks like a film from the 1990s thanks to being shot using super 16. In addition to this, its squared-off aspect ratio created a more immersive feel, allowing viewers to focus on the action on screen.

This is the second major skateboarding film this year after Skate Kitchen and it again served as a backdrop for what was a coming of age story about a kid named Stevie (Suljic). Feeling alone, living with his abusive older brother Ian (Hedges) and his single mother Dabney (Waterston), Stevie chose to look somewhere else for a support system. He quickly found his calling with skateboarding, meeting a new group of friends from a local skate shop named Ray (Na-kel Smith), Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt), Ruben (Gio Galicia), and Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin). It was through this that the film dove deep into skateboarding and 90s culture. The well-written script approached these ideas with such authenticity and truth that it didn’t feel like watching a film though it may not be for everyone as certain elements may rub some the wrong way.

Instead of actors who can skate, Hill cast skateboarders who all gave surprisingly great performances, all things considered. Suljic was compelling to watch as the impressionable Stevie, transforming over the course of the film. He and the skateboarders’ good chemistry made them fun to watch together. In terms of Stevie’s family, while Waterston gave a solid performance as Dabney, Stevie’s relationship with Hedges’ Ian was slightly disappointing considering how he was built up. Hedges gave a solid performance of his own as Ian but his troubled character felt ignored amidst everything else.

Overall, this was a super authentic and truthful coming of age movie with an awesome soundtrack and some compelling performances. It’s retro, super 16 style puts it over the top and if this film is any indication, Jonah Hill proves that he can indeed direct.

Score: 9/10

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