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Mid90s paints a nostalgic vignette of life 25 years ago

Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is unique and distinctly genuine

Claude Brun, Video Editor
Originally published November 23, 2018


From the first shot, “Mid90s” drips nostalgia. From the 4:3 aspect ratio and the shot framing often feels purposefully reminiscent of a 90s sitcom, to the 90s soundtrack, to the vintage look of the color grading, everything comes together to form a wonderfully retro aesthetic that made me feel a vivid sense of nostalgia for a time I’ve never lived through.

“Mid90s” follows our main character, Stevie and his induction into a group of na’er do well skaters who show him the more debaucherous side of high school life. While it could be viewed as a coming of age story, “Mid90s” is meant more as a love letter to the titular time and the director’s own experiences growing up, making it feel distinctly genuine.

The film shines in the realistically written dialogue between this group of friends but falters in the few scenes that try to give the film extra emotional weight by delving into Stevie’s less than perfect home life. While these scenes help add context to why he’s chosen to join this group of misfit skaters, they don’t translate much into the way he acts around them and could benefit from more development, which the 85 minute runtime doesn’t allow.

Similarly, some of the conversations between characters hint at themes that aren’t developed much further. These moments feel disappointingly underdeveloped but adding another 20 minutes to the runtime for theme building would have negated the short and sweet feel that often allows “Mid90s” to shine.

It’s not a film with any deep theme or a grand message and won’t have you leaving the theater with some enlightened understanding of life, but that’s not to say it won’t tug on your heartstrings. “Mid90s” tells a contained and decidedly genuine story about a few kids just being kids and enjoying their summer with all of its ups and downs.

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Mid90s paints a nostalgic vignette of life 25 years ago