Because this movie is being advertised as an awards contender, I was totally unprepared for what kind of movie this really was. It is not pristine, it’s not particularly well shot, the actors aren’t doing their best to nab an Oscar, it’s very short, and it isn’t really structured like a movie. Despite its short length, Mid90s keeps a very slow pace throughout. It doesn’t really tell a distinct story. It just gives you a window into a group of friends’ hard lives and how they cope with that in both positive and negative ways.
The interesting thing is, our main character doesn’t have the worst life. The film makes you think that his home life is unbearable at first but, as the character Ray says in the film: “Lotta the time we feel our lives are the worst. But I think if you look in anyone else’s closet, you wouldn’t trade their shit for your shit. So it’s good.” I think it shows the guilt that someone can feel for feeling bad about their own situation when exposed to other people’s worse situations with a level of subtlety that is impressive for a first-time director like Jonah Hill. Subtle is the word that best describes Mid90s. You don’t feel like you are watching actors. The child actors have an impressive amount of nuance and without them, the movie would fall flat.
This movie isn’t perfect, and you can tell that it is Jonah Hill’s first directing job, but it remains impactful and grounded despite it’s flaws. Because of its unnatural structure and less than pleasant events, I can’t recommend this to everybody. But if this kind of story interests you, this could end up being one of your favorites of the year. I loved it, and I give Mid90s an A-.