By Tessa Osteen
Jonah Hill, best known for roles in films such as 2007’s Superbad or 2012’s 21 Jump Street, is another Hollywood actor trying his hand in the directing pond, receiving critically acclaimed praise for his first feature film in Mid90’s. Unlike most films, he hired amateur actors from the streets to play the role of various skater characters – their performances giving off a feel no seasoned actor could have brought. This new trend was also used in the 2018 film, Skate Kitchen, and the 2017 film, The Florida Project. Set in the mid 1990’s Los Angeles, Mid90s is an ode to skate culture and is often related to the film, Kids, directed by Larry Clark. The film centers around the rambunctious thirteen year old, Stevie, played by young actor Sunny Suljic. As he is navigating through a troubled home life, he befriends a group of skaters at a local skate shop. The film is, quote-on-quote, “a love letter to Los Angeles skating culture.”
Hill, hoping to get away from the “90’s cowabunga kind of trope” and move in the direction of films like Kids, shows a more real and gritty side to Los Angeles, many people may not have known about prior to the film’s release. Bottling youth culture from the 90’s gives it a sense of nostalgia in the way the skaters talk, dress, and how the soundtrack impacts the mood of the film. Another seasoned actor, Katherine Waterston, plays Stevie and Ian’s mom, Dabney, as they live in an typical “run of the mill” Southern California home. Mid90s has many attributes similar to the movie Kids; both have kids skating, smoking weed and are almost always unsupervised by parents. The aesthetic of the film accomplishes its goal in making the audience feel as if they are watching something straight out of the nineties. Cinematographer, Christopher Blauvelt, filmed on 16mm to make the film look like it was actually filmed on a camcorder, giving it the look of a home movie made by a group of skater kids.
The film to be released on October 19th 2018, is already certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with over a 90% and has somewhat garnered some Oscar buzz within the past couple of months. Since his parents and brother are nowhere to be seen in the trailer, you can figure that he is being left alone a lot of the time at home, and goes to search for acceptance somewhere else, and finds it within a group of hooligan skateboarders. Hill growing up in the mid 90s in Los Angeles knows alot about the in and outs of LA culture. Giving the roles to unprofessional actors gives their performances a sense of vulnerability and feels raw like they aren’t even acting in a way, like watching a documentary or a home video in a way. Jonah Hill sitting down with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show says that, “For me I waited until I had something to say, and Mid90s is my heart.” This coming of age film perfectly shows the way kids grow up trying to find where they belong and above all Mid90s is a film about the ins and outs of skating life in Los Angeles during the mid90’s.