'Miniature' Force Powers Jonah Hill's Mid90s

Sunny Suljic delivers what 'might be the performance of the year'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2018 11:14 AM CDT

Jonah Hill's writing and directing debut has arrived. Mid90s, partly based on Hill's own childhood, focuses on a 13-year-old looking for acceptance among a crew of older skateboarders in 1990s Los Angeles. The R-rated, coming-of-age flick has a 79% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, and an even better 95% audience score. What to expect:

  • "Not a lot happens in Mid90s but as a slice of teenage life, it feels almost like a documentary from that time, full of well-observed—if foul-mouthed and sometimes dangerous—moments that ring true," Cary Darling writes at the Houston Chronicle. He also enjoyed the "killer soundtrack."
  • Part of the reason it's so "terrific" is that the film feels authentic, thanks to Hill's autobiographical influences and "a grainy, home-movie aesthetic," Rafer Guzman writes at Newsday. Yet the power lies with star Sunny Suljic. He "packs a megaton of intensity into his miniature frame," Guzman writes. "It just might be the performance of the year."

  • Adam Graham agrees "the tribal rituals of skateboarding are celebrated with authenticity and exuberance" in this "strong start" from a first-time director. "If the story's emotional stakes are lacking, Hill makes up for it in mood and feel," making viewers "invested in the minor triumphs of putting oneself out there," he adds at the Detroit News.
  • Ann Hornaday liked the "unfussily authentic" movie, too. "An appealing cast of newcomers and little-knowns … give the film a welcome dash of warmth and spontaneity," she writes at the Washington Post. One problem: it feels unfinished. "It's more of a fragment, ending on a cheerfully liberated but not particularly resolved note," she writes.
(As a kid, Hill almost had an arm amputated.)

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