The Movie: 8/10
It’s rough and raw and it will make you cringe a few times, which is a good thing. Mid 90’s is the kind of film that not a lot of people I know will like, not at all. It’s portraying a slice of life that is fiction, but is told in a way that is meant to be more realistic, which can be confronting. It is the story of a young boy coming of age in a time and place that seems very non-kid friendly, however, it’s not Stand By Me, or The Wonder Years with that Hollywood shine and packaged vibe. It is, what a chef would say about my food, “rustic”. I love the way it looks, how it was filmed, the music, the camera work, the whole of this film is an experience that got my attention from the start.
As far as the story goes, don’t bring your judgmental cap to watch this movie. In fact if you are the type to have a judgmental hat, you might not even want to watch this one. We meet our leading young boy, Stevie, who puts himself amidst a few older boys and young men who clearly have little or no boundaries for what is age appropriate behavior. He’s desperate for some attention and for someone to just see him, this from an abusive relationship with his older brother, and a mother who might just be a bit too permissive…not judging, no hat on my head.
We see our little dude smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and experiencing time with an older woman, maybe 18 years old. This movie doesn’t shy away from those moments that make you squirm in your chair. It’s not wild and crazy kind of stuff, but it’s uncomfortable. It is, however, tempered with a lot of soulful moments that remind us just how hard and how shitty it is to go through adolescence.
Jonah Hill did a fine job of getting the best out of his cast. The vibe of boys let loose to raise themselves in a city that feels barren and void of any real direction is spot on. They are at a skateboarding shop, which seems abandoned by the grown ups who should be running it, and yet the eldest young man seems to be a real craftsman when it comes to repairing boards, so there is that hint of being grounded even as the rest of their behavior is pretty up in the air.
I found myself feeling like I had drifted into that world completely. I was convinced that the boys were each finding their way through their own tough times, encased almost in the concrete of the city. That concrete becomes the garden they grow up in, their natural world. It’s the connection they have to something less harsh, less manufactured as they roll gleefully through traffic down a busy street on their boards, almost like kids swinging off tire swings into a river in the country.
We have all seen a lot of movies and we know the story of growing up, it’s harsh, it’s cold sometimes, it’s wrapped in sadness and confusion and we are all grasping at something to pull us through. Our Stevie finds his own way, even if we want to grab him up and put him in a safer place. Through it all he learns the same lessons we all do, just not in the way we want to think of a young kid learning about life. He is a tough little guy and at one point after many many hard knocks to his small body throughout the movie, one of the older young men tells him he takes the hardest hits of anyone he’s ever known….and then quickly poignantly says, “You know you don’t have to, right?” and Stevie takes that on board immediately and it’s like a huge weight is lifted from his little shoulders. This is the beauty of this film, it reaches into places we don’t always see in the people we know and love who, on the outside, appear to be self destructive or cut off from the world around them….they aren’t really, and it takes just that one person, that one moment to turn it all around. You just have to be open to it, don’t dismiss it just because you don’t like the choices of these fictional characters. It will dig at your heart because it’s very true to life, and I think that says a lot about the writer/director, Hill, along with his cast.
I would recommend Mid 90’s, immediately followed by something like Toy Story 3 to cheer you up…well, almost:)
- Commentary By Writer/Director Jonah Hill And Director Of Photography Christopher Blauvelt.
- Deleted Scenes (3 Minutes) – A couple of deleted scenes that are actually good and could have been included in the movie.
- UV Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 8/10
Presented on Blu-ray in 1080P, Mid90’s uses a very 90’s aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Shot on super 16 film there is a very grainy grimy look to the whole shoot. The transfer here on the Blu-ray does preserve that look but I found the grain looks unnatural in most of the shots. Facial detail is very good and black levels are on point.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track used here is consistent but not showy in any respect. The score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is showcased and dialog is clear and central as it should be.
Overall Score 8/10