Mid90s is a 2018 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Jonah Hill, in his feature directorial debut. It stars Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges and Katherine Waterston, and follows a 13-year-old boy who begins spending time with a mostly older group of skateboarders while living in 1990s Los Angeles.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jonah Hill|
|Edited by||Nick Houy|
|Box office||$7.4 million|
The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018 and was theatrically released in the United States on October 19, 2018, by A24. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who called it a "promising first outing for Hill."
In the mid-1990s, 13-year-old Stevie lives in Los Angeles with his aggressive, fitness-obsessed older brother Ian and single mother Dabney. One day Stevie bikes past Motor Avenue Skateshop, admires the boastful camaraderie of skateboarders outside the shop, and returns the following day. Back home, Stevie trades with his brother for a skateboard, brings it to the shop and befriends young skater Ruben, who introduces him to the rest of the group: Ray, "Fuckshit", and "Fourth Grade". Although an inexperienced skater, Stevie is drawn to the group and aspires to imitate their daredevil behavior and anti-social attitudes. The group nicknames him "Sunburn" during a conversation. Ruben begins to resent Stevie because he feels he is being replaced as the “younger kid” in the group.
While attempting a skateboard leap across an open section between two rooftops, Stevie falls and suffers a head injury. Dabney becomes concerned about Stevie's turn towards recklessness and his new friends, but Stevie has already made up his mind that he is sticking with the group. Ian has a tense standoff with Fuckshit as Stevie watches, but Ian appears intimidated by the group and leaves before a fight can break out. Stevie begins smoking, drinking, and experimenting with marijuana. At a party, he has his first sexual experience.
After Stevie comes home intoxicated, he and Ian get into a violent fight, after which Ian has an emotional breakdown when Stevie says that he has no friends and, following the conflict, a fed-up and suicidal Stevie attempts to asphyxiate himself with a cord from a Super Nintendo controller. Alarmed by this turn of events, Dabney forbids Stevie from hanging out with the boys, but Stevie lashes out and curses at his mother, refusing to obey. Having alienated his mother and brother, Stevie sits alone behind the skate shop. Ray consoles Stevie, telling him that even though he thinks his life is bad, the other boys have it worse. Fourth Grade is poor to the point of not being able to afford socks; Ruben’s mom is a drug addict; Fuckshit’s relentless partying with drugs and alcohol are worsening; and Ray lost his younger brother, who was hit by a car. Ray then takes Stevie out to skate at night, after which they fall asleep in a park.
The shop hosts a party in back of the store. Ray hopes to make a career in skating, and chats up two professionals as potential sponsors. Fuckshit, who is drunk and high, tries to sabotage Ray’s chances by embarrassing him in front of the pros. Stevie, who has been drinking heavily, is provoked into a brawl with Ruben. Discouraged by the undisciplined behavior of his friends, Ray tells everyone to go home. However, Fuckshit insists on driving the group to another party. Ray agrees, and the group heads off, with Stevie in the front passenger seat. No one seems happy, except Fuckshit, whose judgment has been impaired by drugs and alcohol. Talking animatedly and driving inattentively, Fuckshit crashes and flips the car on its side. Stevie is knocked unconscious, and is rushed to the hospital.
Stevie later awakens in a hospital bed, and sees Ian in a chair alongside him. Ian gives Stevie a container of orange juice as a peace offering. Dabney enters the hospital and sees Stevie's friends, asleep in the waiting room. Moved by the fact they are there for Stevie, Dabney encourages them to visit Stevie's room. They appear willing to reconcile with each other after the previous night's events. Fourth Grade, who has been filming their adventures throughout the film, says he has something to show them, and plugs his camera into a TV to play them an edited video of their daily activities. Fourth Grade titles the film "Mid90s."
- Sunny Suljic as Stevie "Sunburn"
- Katherine Waterston as Dabney, Ian and Stevie's mother
- Lucas Hedges as Ian, Stevie's brother
- Gio Galicia as Ruben
- Na-Kel Smith as Ray
- Olan Prenatt as Fuckshit
- Ryder McLaughlin as Fourth Grade
- Alexa Demie as Estee
Additionally, Jerrod Carmichael cameos as a security guard whom Stevie and his friends taunt. Filmmaker Harmony Korine appears briefly as a sexual partner of Dabney, Korine wrote Kids which Hill was inspired by. Hip-hop artist Del the Funky Homosapien and professional skateboarder Chad Muska appear as homeless man #1 and #2 respectively.
In March 2017, Lucas Hedges joined the cast. In July 2017, it was reported that Katherine Waterston had signed on and that Sunny Suljic was cast in the lead role. It was also revealed that principal production on the film had commenced. On August 1, 2017, Alexa Demie joined the cast.
Mid90s features an original score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as well as recordings by The Pixies, Morrissey, Herbie Hancock, ESG, the Mamas and the Papas, Souls of Mischief, Nirvana, and various 1990s hip hop music.
Mid90s had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018, and was also screened at the New York Film Festival on October 7, 2018. It was theatrically released in the United States on October 19, 2018, in limited engagements, with a wide release the following weekend. Altitude has announced that Mid90s is being released in UK and Irish cinemas on 12th April 2019.
Mid90s grossed $249,500 from four theaters in its opening weekend for an average of $62,375 per venue, good for the third best of 2018. It expanded to 1,206 theaters the following week and made $3 million, finishing 10th at the box office. In its third weekend of release the film made $1.36 million.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 198 reviews, with an average rating of 7.08/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Mid90s tells a clear-eyed yet nostalgic coming-of-age tale that might mark the start of an auspicious new career for debuting writer-director Jonah Hill." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by PostTrak gave the film an 83% overall positive score and a 62% "definite recommend".
Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the film "a coming-of-age tale that's unvarnished enough to believe," specifying, "the fact that a star like Hill built this movie from the ground up, and did it with so much integrity and flair, lends it an undeniable hipster quotient." Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, John DeFore said, "in emotional punch and shoulda-seen-this-coming skill, it is more like Hill's Lady Bird, a gem that feels simultaneously informed by its author's adolescence and the product of a serious artist's observational distance."
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 2 out of 4 stars and said, "Vivid in bits and pieces, Mid90s feels like a research scrapbook for a movie, not a movie. The more Hill throws you around in the name of creating a harsh, immediate impression, the more the impressions blur. Hill will make far better pictures: As an actor, it took him a few films after Superbad to discover the payoff in doing less, and less obviously. The director in him may need another project to figure that out, whatever story he tells next."
|Berlin International Film Festival||Teddy Award for Best Feature Film||Jonah Hill||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Movie Award||Best Young Performer||Sunny Suljic||Nominated|
|Central Ohio Film Critics Association Award||Actor of the Year||Lucas Hedges||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Award||Best Editing||Nick Houy||Nominated|
|NBR Award||Top Ten Independent Films||Won|
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