Ax on 'Flix

In this week's film pick, Axel reviews "Mid90s"

By Axel Marcenaro
On February 7, 2020

Axel Marcenaro, editor-in-chief

Jonah Hill’s directorial debut “Mid90s” is the story of a 13-year-old boy who discovers skateboarding at a troubling time in his life. Stevie, the boy, is fatherless, has an almost absent mother, and a more abusive than aver­age relationship with his older broth­er. The kids he meets at the skate shop show Stevie what hope and trouble look like as he navigates parties, drugs, girls and true friendship.

This movie is a pure ride through nostalgia. Hill uses music flawlessly, avoiding the obvious ‘90s hits and striking the audience with tracks that roll right with the story and right with our ears. Every­thing from the RZA to the Misfits find a perfect moment in “Mid90s.” Additionally, the wardrobe and props are fantastic, with characters in baggy jeans, striped tees, playing Nintendo and jamming every­thing on cassette tapes or CDs. The movie also dons a true film look with imperfections in the frames and discolorations in the shadows. “Mid90s” looks and sounds exactly how it should.

However, the cultural references in this film are only utilized as support. The real nostalgic feeling comes from a much deeper lay­er and speaks in the form of what it feels like to grow up, no matter the decade. No one has to have had Stevie’s exact life to relate to the feelings he held and the experiences they resulted in. As Stevie navi­gates this strange and lonely time, he only wants to fit in somewhere, a feeling Hill portrays perfectly with honest and sometimes hilarious dialogue that sounds like kids just being kids.

I obviously loved this film and the feeling it gave. However, it was not without its issues. For starters, I immediately felt like the actor who played Stevie was a bit too young and, in fact, he was only 11 playing a 13-year-old. I found myself periodically withdrawn from the story as I noticed how comically tiny he was next to his older friends. It didn’t look like a young kid tagging along with the older guys. It looked like a younger sibling who wouldn’t go away.

Second, and most importantly, I didn’t get quite enough con­nection with Stevie’s family in the end. I understand Hill wanted the movie to be about a time when friends take on a larger role than fam­ily, but with Stevie’s homelife being so rough, I expected more of a conclusion in that space of his life. It’s not terribly done by any means, but I think if Hill had fleshed Stevie’s family relationship out more, he would have given us a fuller, more complete feeling in the end of the story.

Overall, I highly recommend this movie. I think anyone who grew up in or around the ‘90s will love it, while everyone out of that frame may still find a piece of them in a simple coming-of-age tale.

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