When I first heard of this movie and saw its trailer, I have to admit the idea of a coming-of-age set in the 1990s very much intrigued me—especially since I’m a ’90s kid and I actually once had the idea for a film surrounding a group of friends (or should I say F•R•I•E•N•D•S?) growing up in that decade. So, we took the opportunity of renting this through…no, not Blockbuster Video, sadly, but a more 21st-century version called Redbox.
MID90s, written and directed by Jonah Hill in his feature directorial debut, follows Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a 13-year-old living in Los Angeles with his single mother (Katherine Waterston) and aggressive older brother (Lucas Hedges). Stevie, like many kids his age, feels like he doesn’t fit in and has a poor family life. He soon enters into a gang of rebellious young skateboarders…but hanging with the wrong crowd ultimately takes its toll.
This film was completely different from what I thought it would be going in. It is actually a lot more cynical, vulgar, and profane than I would’ve expected. It may have even crossed my proverbial line as far as language is concerned, although on the other hand the fact that it doesn’t pull any punches as far as its dialogue and characterizations can make for a more relatable experience to people who have found themselves in similar situations during their own childhoods. I, of course, am not one of them, although I probably would’ve liked it more if I was; even so, it is a very interesting and obviously nostalgia-provoking look through the eyes of Generation Y.
Besides the nostalgic and amazingly-darn-near-authentic set, prop, and costume design aspects, the film maintains its ’90s aesthetic principally through its 4:3 aspect ratio (which would, of course, evoke the days of watching movies on VHS) and through its 35mm film photography; the fact that several dust particles have been left intact on the digitally-edited film throughout is, at least to me and whether or not it was actually intended, still enough of a nice added touch.