A24’s “Mid90s” is one of the more fascinating releases of 2018. Writer and director Jonah Hill examines the bonds formed by skaters during the rise California’s skating community. A compelling subject to explore but there comes the point where too much of one item can cause a narrative to drag. This issue is a significant reason why Hill’s initial foray as the director won’t amount to much. There comes the point when a film is nothing more than overkill. So how long is A24’s latest release? According to Imdb.com, the film is only one hour and twenty-five minutes. So how exactly does a movie this lean seemingly drag from start to finish?
Sadly, it’s the writing. Hill’s narrative tends to meander from place to place not having any set purpose. There are indeed plenty of beautiful moments in “Mid90s,” but those are few and far between. Perhaps the inexperience of being both the director and writer of a project had an impact on the overall product? Maybe, but I tend to believe this film is more a vanity project for Hill. Instead of keeping the focus squarely on the friendships these boys form over time, we are forced to deal with a whole other tale about how horrible his home life is. The cinematography seems to pay way too much attention to close-ups. While bringing in the camera can reveal emotional moments, there comes the point where continually being that close is just uncomfortable.
Considering all of these elements, I’m as surprised as you are that I didn’t hate the film. Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, and Na-Kel Smith all turn in solid performances. “Mid90’s” has one the best soundtracks of 2018 as it perfectly reflects the mood and period of this film. One can’t help but wonder what might have happened had this film been directed or written by someone else entirely. I’m sure that down the road, Hill with hone his craft and become a better director. However, in 2018, “Mid90’s” is destined to fade away from relevancy. I’d stay away from this release and would give them film a D.