In Mid90’s all the earnestness and authenticity threatens to turn the film into a museum piece, a documentary about the hangout habits of skater youth. All the stoner and hip hop accents pile up in familiar, and at times, unintelligible layers. The aimlessness too, until the plot and tribal mechanics click in forcing realization, confrontation and inevitable separation.
Stevie (Sunny Suljic) is the low level initiate whose rite of passages are on view under the specimen slide. He is the only one who displays attention, devotion, and a modicum of insight. If he didn’t exist this loose gang would have no ambition, no drive to go anywhere. Although, Stevie’s home life wavers between motherly ennui, parental concern and heaps of older sibling verbal, mental and physical abuse, at least it has a dramatic structure.
Suljic performance is the only one in the cast that doesn’t feel forced, over earnest and effected— the only one that exists and rises above standard character types. It is an odd creative misstep from actor turned director Jonah Hill.
It is easy to fall and get back up when there is no real force in the way to keep you down.