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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Characters make some poor decisions, have a cloud of iffy stuff hovering around them, but ultimately story of misfits finding each other to form real friendships stresses value of family you choose and importance of finding your people, acceptance, and something you're passionate about.
Positive Role Models
Everyone does wrong things, some more than others. The struggling single mom does her best. The most together of the skateboarders, Ray, is a genuinely good guy who's empathetic, but he also makes poor choices -- including a potentially fatal one.
Violence & Scariness
Quite a bit of fighting among teens, including some pretty brutal bullying of Stevie by his older, bigger brother. Characters take many spills on/off their skateboards, including a violent fall off a roof. Serious car accident.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Evidence/discussion of mother's sex life. But sexual encounter explored in film is between teens -- including one who's apparently 13, but looks younger. Scene stops short of nudity, but it's discussed in some detail. Some viewers may be troubled by participants' apparent youth.
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Persistent strong language, especially "f--k"; many more, including "p-ssies," "s--t," "a--holes," "d--k," "bitches," "hell," "damn," "oh my f---ing God," etc. Frequent use of racist, homophobic slurs. Most use cases aren't based on actual hatred of people who are gay, black, etc., but use accurately depicts the kind of (for example) casually homophobic culture that can be so damaging. Teens curse at adults, including strangers on the street (even challenging one to a fight), suffer no consequences.
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Products & Purchases
Logos on skateboards sold in the film's skate gear store.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Extensive drinking and partying by teens (as young as 13), including driving drunk and getting involved in sexual situations while under the influence. Kids smoke tobacco and marijuana.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mid90s is an edgy coming-of-age story set in 1990s Los Angeles about an unhappy young teen named Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who finds his people: a group of skateboarding, drinking older teens. Expect lots of strong language throughout, especially "f--k," but also many others, as well as racist and homophobic slurs. There's a fair amount of fighting, including brutal bullying by Stevie's bigger brother. A sexual encounter between young teens, including the young-looking 13-year-old main character, is shown right up until the point that nudity would occur and is described in some detail later. Teen characters drink a lot, drive drunk, and smoke both tobacco and pot. Jonah Hill's debut as a writer-director also stars Lucas Hedges and Katherine Waterston. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This edgy comedy feels autobiographical because the characters' little triumphs are too little to be lied about; the details feel real. The characters' aspirations may not involve saving the universe, but they seem entirely important to them. The dual facts of that smallness and the unvarnished, shall we say, "messed-upness" of Mid90s fuel its authenticity and make it more memorable than most coming-of-age tales. It's very much in the vein of Summer '03 and other unapologetic portraits of teen fumblings in all their glory (and stupidity). The relationships at home, especially the lack of empathy and respect that Stevie and his brother show their mom, will make adults cringe. These kids make some very poor decisions, including getting into a car with a driver who's clearly hammered. But they also find real friendship on the way to exploring who they may want to be.
Suljic certainly inhabits Stevie. He was apparently around 11 when the film was shot, which underlines the uncomfortable feeling that 13-year-old Stevie is simply too young for the things he's getting into. Waterston is sympathetic, and Hedges is a rising star. But the movie's real find is professional skateboarder/musician Smith as Ray, the ringleader. His understated performance is quiet and assured. It builds your confidence in this aspiring skateboarder -- who, it turns out, actually sees the people around him. Hill immerses viewers in the world of skate culture and teen indolence but dodges "skate porn" and "nostalgia porn" (though he did shoot the movie in old-fashioned 4:3 aspect ratio) to focus on real-feeling characters who have believable struggles. There are sequences of Mid90s that some viewers will find totally unacceptable, but (with the exception of one character not being in jail at the end) everything about it feels totally believable.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.