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Jonah Hill’s film reminds us that we shouldn’t have to work hard to find true belonging.
Late in Jonah Hill’s Mid90s, the movie’s thirteen-year-old protagonist Stevie (Sunny Suljic) is visited by his skater friends while he’s in the hospital recovering from an injury. It’s one of several he’s sustained trying to impress these older boys he admires. He shows off his casts and jokes with them for a while. Then Ray (Na-kel Smith), the group’s unofficial leader, tells Stevie something that puts their relationship, and the whole film, in a different, more profound light. “You take the hardest hits of anyone I’ve ever seen in my life,” Ray tells Stevie. “You know you don’t have to do that, right?”
Mid90s - Movie - Acceptance - Elements - Search
Mid90s is a movie about looking for belonging and acceptance, and the performative elements that search often takes on, particularly in young men. The movie shows how that performance can morph into unhealthy attitudes and lead to destructive places, and the way it’s used to mask vulnerability and pain. The film also shows how, in the end, our bonds, shared experiences, and care for each other, as exemplified by the words of Proverbs 17:17, are really what matters.
At the beginning of the film, Stevie is directionless. The only role model in his life is his older brother Ian (Lucas Hedges), who can’t stand him. When Ian isn’t beating him up, Stevie’s sneaking into his room to check out Ian’s collection of rap CDs and paging through his issues of The Source. Stevie finds the validation he’s seeking in the group of high school boys who hang out at a nearby skate shop. The boys—Ray, Fourth Grade (Rider McLaughlin), Ruben (Gio Galicia) and a crudely-nicknamed character (Olan Prenatt), whose name I won’t repeat here—are funny and tough. They’re talented skaters. Most importantly, though, they’re...
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