It wouldn't be too far of a reach to evoke Kids (1995) while diving into Mid90s. But instead of taking on the HIV crisis, Mid90s is a much more tender, poignant reflection on coming of age in 90's skate culture. Jonah Hill, writer and director, examines the complexities of trying to fit in and the difficult choices one has to embrace individualism. From an opening of physical abuse to scenes of drug usage and traumatic experiences, Mid90s is a meditation not only on culture, but also a subtle examination of what it means to be human, to reach emotional and physical limitations, and to seek acceptance. Filmed in a 4:3 aspect ratio, Mid90s doesn't concern itself with grandiose filmography, but instead the aspect ratio almost reflects the tonal and metaphorical aspects played out on screen. With a smaller dynamic range of color and the familiar dust/scratches, the 16mm film compliments gritty and emotional moments of Mid90s. The emotional range of the film will take the audience from the depths of empathy to laughing out loud, but there is no compromise to the weight of each moment. Jonah Hill's directorial debut is beautiful in every sense of the word.
The secret weapon to this charming story of a cranky, aging father and his new robot companion is the near-total dryness of its humor. On paper, this might sound like a depressing movie, but thanks to director Jake Schreier's sensitive touch, its protagonist's fading memory and family drama takes on the spark of youth once more. It's sweet and low-stakes, with most of the tension not coming from any fear that Frank might get caught in his hijinks, but in the curiosity of seeing if he can get back to his thieving roots. A great cast including Frank Langella, James Marsden, and Jeremy Strong keep every emotion coming consistently.