Last week we finally got to see the trailer for Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s. The project, which Hill wrote and directed, is the Superbad star’s homage to skateboarding culture and growing up in the '90s.
At two minutes and twenty-one seconds, the trailer gives us three crucial pieces of information. That is, Hill has written a tense family drama with elements of a dark teen comedy and a soundtrack worthy of its own vinyl production.
Set to hit theaters on October 19, the film appears to be yet another award winner for acclaimed studio, A24 (Moonlight, Ladybird, the Lobster). Hill, who has been out of the awards circuit since his 2014 best supporting role nomination for Wolf of Wallstreet, is overdue for another Oscar worthy performance — though this time it will be behind the cameras.
The 34 year-old first time director, who broke into the industry with coming-of-age raunchy comedies like Grandma’s Boy and Superbad, was a star among the teen and college-age male demographic years before he garnered attention as a powerhouse dramatic actor. It seems fitting, then, for his directing breakthrough to be in the form of a coming-of-age drama about teenage male angst. In this way, Mid90s in both a throwback to Hill's career infancy as a goofy bro-comedy star and of his evolution as an artist.
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The film’s protagonist, Stevie, is a meek, long-haired 13 year old struggling with a tumultuous home life and social isolation in 1990s Los Angeles. He finds his outlet through a group of rowdy skateboarders who take him under their wing. The group becomes Stevie’s second family, as well as a source of potentially toxic influences. The film, while not necessarily autobiographical, likely draws from Hill’s own childhood experiences in LA during the rise of skate culture, and employs universal themes of adolescence, family conflict, and self discovery.
Hill's love for the youth and skate culture of the '90s comes as no big surprise. In fact, the last few years have seen him become America's most unlikely style icon in the urban fashion world of streetwear.
Mid90s may, of course, end up being a total flop. Hill would not be the first talented actor to fail as a director, and would certainly not be the last. Critic expectations are high, something the two-time Oscar nominee is, by now, no doubt used to.
Whether Jonah Hill will turn out to be a millennial Mel Gibson (sans the anti-Semitism), is yet to be seen. Still, the first trailer for Mid90s sets a hopeful tone for Hill's future as a Hollywood double threat.