The Couch Boys review: “Mid90s”

(A24.)

By Brennan Atkins & Noah Barnes

Entertainment Correspondents

Jonah Hill’s writing and directorial debut “mid90s” stars Sunny Suljic as Sunburn/Stevie, Na-Kel Smith as Jay and Lucas Hedges as Ian.

The film focuses on the everyday life of a boy named Stevie, and the familial struggles of living with a single mom and abusive brother. He’s an anxious child, so making new friends is hard for him.

He meets a group of friends who dedicate their lives to partying and skating. He quickly rises through the social ranks, even earning the nickname Sunburn.

Stevie is a quiet kid, and always wants to be doing what the rest of the group deems “cool.” This leads him to acquire the role of a follower, and the audience’s expectations are that he will break out of his shell.

Instead, Hill does nothing with it.

Stevie’s brother Ian presents an intriguing character concept. He serves as Stevie’s nightmare, but also as a reflection of what he could become. They share some small traits with each other, and this small detail was nice.

Unfortunately, the character development is never fleshed out.

And again, they do nothing with it.

Jay, the unspoken leader of the group, is seemingly the only one who has a positive influence on Stevie, and the rest are quite toxic.

They smoke, drink, and trespass all without a care in the world. Jay actually has motivation, as he wants to be a professional skateboarder, and won’t put the group’s tomfoolery above his own ambitions.

Smith has the largest number of good scenes of anyone else in the cast, and he shows some serious potential for future projects. Honestly, a movie centered around him instead of Stevie seems as if it could be interesting.

It’s not without its fair share of positives.

The music has a boom-bap tone, thanks to the inclusion of artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and Big L.

Hill captured the skating-in-the-’90s aesthetic without shoving references and skating lingo down our throats.

The worry that it was going to cater to ’90s kids was quickly relinquished.

The ending to this movie might have you scratching your head. Not because of confusion, or the quality of the final scene, but rather how abrupt and out of nowhere it felt. It feels inconclusive, unimaginative, and uncool.

Hill definitely shows that he has potential when it comes to directing, but it feels as if he’s written the script with something to prove.

 

Grade: C+

Jonah will land that kickflip one day.

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