Oh man, I got took back way more than I thought.
It could have been so easy to just make a movie set in the mid 1990s and just stuff it to the brim with pop culture references with little substance, but for the as far to my knowledge first and only film directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s is a great movie. Taking a super simple idea of a young boy named Stevie who joins a group of older skateboarding kids and makes some good friends, and without cynicism or optimism just shows that evolution. It does not sugarcoat anything, it cuts the bullshit, and is just on the level with everything. Cause I mean teenagers will be teenagers, and teens in the mid 90s weren't that much different besides some more "colorful" terminology but hey man it was the decade. We see it, acknowledge it, and have moved on to be better. But I genuinely respect and admire the fact the movie does show both the more hard edged and rough stuff while still having a mostly happy tone. You see these kids drink and smoke, break the law, cuss like sailors, they have some anger issues. However they do take the time to explain why each of the kids are in this circle of friends and they act like stupid teenagers but you can tell they are truly friends and care about each other. Speaking even as a kid born in 1995 just a year before this movie is set, I was heavily surprised how much I saw in this movie that did mirror my own life. Not just the video games, or the skateboarding culture and yeah everyone had to try it once and I sucked back then and I suck harder now, but yeah I hung out with kids older than me who were my cousins. I had friends who were skate or die kids, I did have anger issues, I did catch the attention of some ladies, I did have a very rough and tumble relationship with my cousins, you better damn well believe my friends were considered troublemakers and "bad" kids though they were just kids. It spoke to me on a lot of levels and I attribute it to this great cast. Sunny Suljic is awesome in this, able to roll with the hits sometimes quite literally but still be a down to earth nice kid who just gets into the skating culture and makes some memories out of it. I especially loved though Na-Kel Smith who easily has the best scene out of the entire movie, just sitting with Stevie and explains the situations of the guys he hangs out with bluntly but not harshly. He's a truly great friend that wants to aspire to be more and skateboard for a living, just a stand up cool guy to the end. I admire the hell out of Ryder McLaughlin's character though, because he plays a character who more observes the stunts than performs them and literally films them just having fun, that definitely sounded more like me spectating other people do the flips and tricks and was more the quiet one of the bunch. Fairly bold of the movie though I must say to shoot on 16mm film, not digital cameras simply made to look like 16mm but do it legit. Cause while the movie looks good it has that particular saturation and occasional film grain that you could almost pass off as home movie quality, fish eye lens and all, it's a small touch but one I feel pays off. And it is really funny, yeah it's a drama first but I got a kick out of seeing these boys shoot the shit and just pal around. But when the movie pumps the brakes and hits you with serious stuff, whether it's more subtle like the conversation they have with a guy living on the street, or the talks about the rough situations each of these guys have, or even the big heavy climax, it feels well earned and again doesn't pull any punches. I was very impressed and had a real good time seeing this movie, appreciating it a fair bit too so I do absolutely highly recommend it. 4 stars, 9/10, and tomorrow we wrap up our short A24 trek for now at least with X.