“A lot of the time we feel that our life’s the worst, but I think that if you looked in anybody else’s closet, you wouldn’t trade your shit for their shit.”Ray
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is a nostalgia-soaked homage to the Los Angeles streets of his youth, following 13-year-old Stevie as he balances a questionable home life and a newfound friendship with a crew of skaters. Youthful aimlessness captured through grainy, low-fi production (shot on 16mm film) recalls Kids as well as early Richard Linklater. Befitting many of his acting roles, Hill demonstrates a well-attuned instinct for the awkwardness of male bonding, and the poor adolescent advice that accompanies it (“don’t thank people — they’re gonna think you’re gay,” Stevie is initially warned before the crew’s leader disabuses him of the notion). The unvarnished presentation of the reality of risk-taking and adult behaviour amongst children rarely feels forced, though its recurring theme of subconscious self-harm is only addressed at the end. Setting the film over two decades in the past also reduces its relevance to today’s teenagers. Mid90s may not be a stellar debut, but it demonstrates that Hill has skill behind the camera that indicates a bright future.