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Movie Review – Mid90s

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Movie Review - Mid90s

First off, I’d give Mid90s a solid B. It’s a strange, unhappy little movie. I think it’s worth a watch, but it’s NOT a comedy. Ignore the hype saying that.

This is a slightly artsy slice of life about a 13-year-old skateboarding kid who makes some seriously bad choices. I even put an Alert Peetime in there, for disturbing imagery.

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The main character, Stevie, is a nice, intelligent boy, who slowly learns to be a thug. I don’t remember my 90s being like this.

I was a young adult, having the time of my life while rock climbing, backpacking, and studying at the college I loved. My friends and I talked about how we were going to save the world, about quantum physics, about Star Trek The Next Generation, and the spiritually transcendent beauty of the wilderness. Grunge was the music of the day, and even now, I feel happy and nostalgic when I catch the wifty notes of Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins,  Soundgarden, and Collective Soul. Good times. Not so for Stevie, his mother, his brother, or his friends. I wanted to shake these people. This isn’t a film about the 90s at all, in spite of the title. It’s a treatise about youth skateboard culture and the pain of low-income adolescence in Los Angeles.

Oh well. [pullquote]Every actor — all the kids, and Stevie’s mother — did a fantastic job, creating believable and interesting characters, people you wanted to root for, but also understood to be complete train-wrecks.[/pullquote] You know how you drive past a highway accident and can’t look away, even though it’s none of your business and you’re holding up traffic? That’s how this felt.

At the climax of the film, there were some interesting, unflinching filmatic choices. You’ll notice those beats as you see them. (I’ve never quite seen that kind of thing before.) The denouement was a proudly defiant and energetic anthem to teenage angst. Then it very suddenly ends.

[pullquote position=”right”]I applaud how the director chose to conclude the narrative. While nothing was fixed or finalized, it was a bizarrely satisfying roundup on everything coming before, seen through the eyes of a gang of rebellious, awkward, rude…yet strangely likable teens.[/pullquote]

The thing is, these slacker kids and their story isn’t really tied to the era. Besides the clothes and the music, this story could be transplanted to the 50s, the 70s, or any decade from the last century. It’s all before the digital age (note “Fourth Grade’s” prominent camcorder use – no cell phones are in evidence), so the setting could be any time before the new millennia.

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Should you see this film in the theater? I’d say to save your money and wait for it to land on Netflix. The setting doesn’t require a big screen, and the story rambles in a low-key fashion.

In any case, this is worth seeing eventually. You’ll walk away a bit sad, and definitely more thoughtful.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I have 3 Peetimes here. I would have had only 2, but the middle one is an Alert Peetime, indicating a potentially disturbing scene. Use that only if the description in the meta would be upsetting to you. The 1st Peetime is at the 45 minute mark and shows teens partying. The 3rd Peetime is the best: at the hour mark, you get 5 minutes to duck out, and all you’ll miss is a long night of two boys skating. 

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Mid90s. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

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