Arts & Life, Film & Television

Jonah Hill’s ‘Mid90s’ details growing up in the hip-hop and skate era

Actor and producer Jonah Hill is best known for his comedic roles in movies such as “Superbad,” “21 Jump Street,”  “This Is the End” and “Wolf of Wall Street.” Lately, he has strayed away from these types of roles to pursue his directorial debut of “Mid90s” at the Toronto International Film Festival.

I was curious to see how the comedy actor, who made me roll on the floor laughing with his jokes on screen, would capture the nostalgia of the ‘90s and what his message would be Hill did not disappoint.

The film follows 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic), who lives in Los Angeles and finds himself hanging out with a group of new friends who escape their troubled home life through skating. Hill mentioned in an interview with The Breakfast Club that he made the film because he felt that hip-hop, much like skating, is misrepresented in today’s movies.

He responds to this trend with an honest and emotional film that shows hip-hop and skating for what it actually is and what it means to him — the emotional backbone of his childhood.

If you’re going into the movie thinking it’s going to be a happy, fun-loving and dramatic movie with a ‘90s nostalgic vibe, you will likely leave the theater dismayed.

Although Hill does place his signature comedic moments through the character’s jokes and slang, the story is very raw and real.

The first 10 seconds of the film start off with the dark and emotional scene of Stevie being abused by his brother, Ian (Lucas Hedges). The rest of the film carries on with intense moments that capture what life struggles are like through a 13-year-old boy’s eyes.

“That’s the lens I saw life through skateboarding,” Hill said in the interview.  

While the film’s content can be viewed as vulgar like a cringe-worthy scene where Stevie loses his virginity at a party, it also reveals the authenticity behind Hill’s work.

The film is evocative and moving, shedding light from the skater’s perspective and their experiences.

It is as original and genuine as a movie can get. Hill basically holds up a mirror to the culture of toxic masculinity that surrounded the ‘90s and how the universal longing of a teenager wanting to fit in relies heavily on acceptance from his peers.

“Mid90s” highlights how young boys in that generation focused on money and approval from their guy friends from things such as sex, drugs and alcohol, which Hill says “is a bad lesson that we are having to unlearn.”

The film is hypnotizing and no matter how savage and brutal it gets, my eyes never tore away from the screen.

Hill’s ability to implement a sense of culture shock with a reality that not a lot of people experience or discuss is praiseworthy. He makes the audience assume the story is going one way, but instead depicts a powerful ride.

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