You sort of have to wonder if the initial pitch for Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, was something along the line of “only ‘90s kids will get this!”
Watching the trailer for Hill’s first film, we can at least admit that he appears to have pretty much nailed that time period—and we say that as some of those ‘90s kids we just belittled above. Protagonist Stevie is clad in a vintage Street Fighter 2 tee shirt, but the set dressings go a whole lot further than just that. Every aspect of the film seems tailored toward the perfect preservation of mid-’90s L.A.
With that said, the decade is hardly the true focus of the film, despite being its title. As one would expect, Mid90s is a coming-of-age movie, in which our 13-year-old lad Stevie seems to be navigating that awkward period that comes at the end of “childhood” and the beginning of “young adulthood,” much in the same way that was explored in the later portions of Boyhood. Stevie faces a lot of the cinematic trials that you typically expect for the genre: Parents who never even appear in the trailer, an older brother who seems pretty clearly abusive, and older girls who are hopelessly out of his league.
Set to Wendy Rene’s classic Stax recording “After Laughter (Comes Tears),” Mid90s seems to be striving for profundity in the sort of way that A24 has occasionally modeled itself—familiar stories, told with more gravitas and importance. We’ll see if this tale of skateboarding, gangs and the streets of L.A. can measure up against the razor wit and tender heartstrings of something like Lady Bird.
Mid90s is scheduled for an Oct. 19, 2018 release. Check out the full trailer below.