Movie Time - Mid90s (2018)
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Top 3 most definitely. Mid90s, a movie set in you guess it… the mid-90s. A little back story to my relation to this movie is that, no I was not born in the 90s, however, I have parents that grew up in the 90s. Like teens to adulthood in the decade. That being said I hold a bit of their childhood experience, their interests from the 90s all in my heart. My father was a rebel born into a middle-class family on the streets. At the time hip hop and skating were becoming a big thing and he was all in for it. His friends would skate and listen to all types of artists we consider now as founders of the lyrical masterpieces of rap. And I take up that mantle in my everyday life, going out and skating with friends and reminiscing about rap coming straight from the 90s. Again that being said I have a bias to this movie as I can almost completely relate in my own experience growing up and even now as I still grow into an adult. Here are the Mid90s.
Unlike past movies, I have reviewed and analyzed, Mid90s was pretty much face value, and/or shock value to those who are uninformed. And I am honest, I loved the unapologetic vibes and scenes I got from the movie. It was the best part of seeing what the 90s was like. The harsh reality of a society that pressured social acceptance leading to danger and substances. As Jonah Hill said in an interview he isn’t here to be your dad. He is here, to tell the facts of life back then and why it matters today. And also mad props to Jonah for putting out a fantastic debut film as an aspiring director. But back to the topic at hand, Mid90s is a film about a 13-year-old boy seeking friendship through skateboarding. Though this was a curse and a blessing for the paths he chose to get recognized.
Mid90s stars as Stevie, the 13-year-old, in awe watches a rebellious talented group of skaters across the street. Stevie begins to try to meet the group through skating. Leading us, the audience, to meet his family situation. An abusive older brother, a hard-working mother, and an absent father. Stevie is shown to have much interest in the culture his brother delves in. The hip hop culture of the 90s. Featuring songs from Wutang Clan, Big L, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and The Pharcyde. As well as an old 80s skateboard his brother owns. The abuse Stevie receives is his older brother’s anger towards the world. A brother who knew his father and hates his brother as he feels his father left because of him. Nevertheless, to not dodge the question, Ian (the brother), is a half stepper. One who acts like he is tough because he does gang-affiliated things, but actually does not. So… a poser. Something that can be used to describe many in the current day. A big thing of the current day and even back then is the act of being a criminal as it “shows toughness,” but at the end of the day, you are just another poser. Some people don’t choose the life of being gang-affiliated, but actively acting like you killed people and repping gangs that you aren’t apart of is extremely disrespectful. To not even know the situation of said gangs and even gang members. A term perfectly described by the song “Ain’t no Half-Steppin’” by Big Daddy Kane. And even “Shook Ones” parts 1 and 2 by Mobb Deep. And to feel tough, instead of uplifting his brother Stevie, he chooses to beat him up to feel tough, a bully complex.
Back to the story, Stevie desires the skateboard to make an impression on the skate group that he can and does skate. So also in a way he is a poser. Pretty funny but a common thing among non-skaters. In my own experience skating is the desired talent, a lot of people wish to have it. However, like cheaters in tests or half steppers, some like to pose as if they know how to skate. A common thing is an act of wearing a Thrasher shirt. A skate company that has a clothing brand. And to not know how to ride a skateboard and wear this brand is considered a posing act. Though I personally do not care for minor things like that. Thrasher is a cool brand and has dope designs, but the moment you hold a skateboard and say you can ride but you can’t I step in. Because doing this puts aside all the blood, sweat, and tears true skaters have/had and completely disrespects the skater community. And the same can be said about half steppers, as real gang members, that I have met have gone through so much pain and to act like a gang member is insanely disrespectful to the pain that gang members go through on a daily basis. That is not to justify gangs and crime but it is to say that the reason they choose a gang is because of the abuse they go through and the perpetuation of gang violence.
Again back to the story, in order to get the skateboard from his brother he has to trade with his brother leading to him stealing money from his mother. The first instance in the movie where Stevie begins his bad path. The next day he goes and hangs out with the skate group and has a good time. He meets 4 people. Ruben a kid who doesn’t want to go home because of his junkie mother. He likes to hide this by getting “dropped off” and acting tough with insults. Next is Fourth Grade, a skinny kid who is the designated filmer of the group. The guy who has the camera rolling at all times. He gets his name from his reading level which they make fun of him for. Next is Fuckshit, funny name as he says it all the time which earned him this name. A partier who does drugs and underage drinking. Last is Ray, I’d say the star of the movie. He is the only one trying his best to make something of skating. And this is the beginning of Stevie/Sunburn’s journey with the group. Also, while he meets the group he is pressured to smoke a cigarette. Another one for the books where Stevie feels peer pressure to fit in.
Stevie goes out with the group to a skate session on a rooftop wherein he tries to show off and not be a “pussy.” Again showing the social pressure to be a tough kid and not a wimp. Ruben hesitates and Stevie without even knowing how to jump a skateboard falls straight onto a table. Stevie hits his head and begins to bleed but everyone applauds his strength in doing a trick he was bound to fail. Ruben feels out of place and feels like he is being replaced as he has to use his shirt to stop Stevie’s head from bleeding, his favorite shirt. Thus begins another branch of Stevie vs. Ruben. As Stevie goes home his mother is worried but he begins to shut her out. Another branch of the story of rising independence among adolescent children.
Fast forward and Fuckshit starts calling out Ian who spots Stevie, this is where is the house of cards comes tumbling down. He meets someone who will actually speak up to him and who is his own size. This angers Ian to beat up Stevie later in the movie again showing the abuse Ian gives to Stevie. And forward a bit more and Stevie goes to a house party with the group. And before that, Fuckshit brings out some molly that he wants the group to eat. Ray stops them because he even knows there is a line between giving 13-year-old drugs but this knowledge doesn’t stretch any farther to drinking and smoking weed. The house party I will sum up is a party with girls. Leading Stevie to actually have sex at 13. Not only that but he was also applauded by his friends after displaying the classic objective of passion before mental growth. This scene hit hard as it made me think that this was a possibility and a desire even today to the rising sexual tensions in our society. The recent idea of hookups solidifies the idea that sex could be just a pleasure and not a relationship thing.
Fast-forwarding more and we get a scene of Stevie coming home to a mom worried for him. And this is where it gets sad as she isn’t scolding him but all the barriers he recently put up with his mom closing her off leads her astray to if he is actually okay. This leads her to assume that the reason for this rebellion against her is because of Stevie’s new friends making her question them to him. And here is where it gets intense as Stevie out of rage yells “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” to his mom a few times. Finalizing his barriers and tearing him apart as well. I’d say emotionally I felt terrible that all his bad decisions to substance abuse, fighting his brother and stealing and closing mother off crushes him in a final stand against his mother. Blowing up in his face as he walks into the skate shop where he sits confused as Ray comes up next to him. Someone who has been somewhat a good figure to Stevie tells him the story of his brother.
Ray’s story was that when he was a young skater. His younger brother one day died in a car crash. Defeated and depressed he stayed home for days until Fuckshit comes to his home. Before all the drugs and all the drinking. Fuckshit actually drags Ray out to go skate, to get him out of the house, and to get his mind off the pain. Something I can relate to. Skating to get my mind off of pain and stress. Something many skaters can relate to. Skating was originally a far fetched idea sought after by tricksters and park riders. Like Tony Hawk and Rodney Mullen. But in the 90s it evolved into a street thing. By which I mean people from the streets from the Projects all over began skating because it was all the had. Because it was the way they could ride away from their problems at home, like Ruben. Thus making street skating a staple branch of skating. Ray and Stevie go skate through the night and sleep at a park. This is where I resonate the most. Ray did tricks but Stevie just cruised. Feeling the wind was better than any promise of freedom. If you can cruise, you can skate. A lot of people think that tricks make you a skater but that’s just extra. The root of skating is the freedom your board gives you to go anywhere on your four wheels.
The final scenes are a party where Fuckshit gets jealous of Ray for conversing with pro-skaters and Ruben fighting Stevie. The party was full of drinking and drugs. This led to Fuckshit driving them all to another party because that is what he does and Ray objecting and wanting to go home making Fuckshit get mad because he “doesn’t have fun anymore.” This fight and the drinking led to Fuckshit crashing the car and putting Stevie in a minor coma. The final scenes are of Ian coming and giving his brother orange juice a sign of healing between their brotherly relationship. His mother also begins to accept Stevie’s friends as they slept at the hospital waiting for the news and she allows them to visit Stevie. The movie ends on a little movie Fourth Grade edited of them all having fun skating.
I loved this movie I hope you did too. The final words from me are that. This movie is tough to digest, but at the end of the day, it showed what real friendship was. My favorite scene is Ray telling Stevie to go. As he says “So… let’s go.” Because at the end of the day, when you fall down, who is gonna be there to pick you back up?