James Milstead’s review published on Letterboxd:
MID 90S (15)
D: Jonah Hill
A24/Waypoint (Scott Rudin, Jonah Hill, Eli Bush, Ken Kao & Lila Yacoub)
US 2018 (released 2019)
W: Jonah Hill
DP: Christopher Blauvelt
Ed: Nick Huoy
Mus: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
Sunny Suljic (Stevie / 'Sunburn'), Katherine Waterston (Dabney), Lucas Hedges (Ian), Gio Galacia (Ruben), Na-Kel Smith (Ray), Olan Prenatt ('Fuckshit'), Ryder McLaughlin ('Fourth Grade')
Jonah Hill makes a very promising debut behind the camera as writer-director of this coming-of-age tale, set amongst the skateboarding community of Mid-1990's Los Angeles.
Hill brings some of his own experiences growing up into the film's themes, but the story is not considered autobiographical. It follows a young teenager called Stevie, coming from a broken home where he is bullied by his older brother, he falls in with a group of older teenagers who skate. He is initially taken under the wing of the previous youngest member, Ruben, before he earns the friendship of Ray, the most esteemed of the group. Together, they get up to a little bit of mischief (smoking, drinking, crashing house parties), but mostly just want to perform skateboarding stunts, often at the risk of their own safety.
The film is clearly a labour of love for Jonah Hill, drawing on elements from other films from the mid 1990's and even citing Shane Meadows' This Is England as an inspiration.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the film is how it acts as a time portal, in the respect that you'd believe it was a film which was made during the 1990's rather than 2018. The performances are all great, the characters all fleshed out and not one word of dialogue from the screenplay strikes a false chord.
As an actor, I think Jonah Hill is great, but with this on his credits, perhaps he has just as promising a career as a director. A solid first movie from a promising young filmmaker.