90’s – That’s 90 show
Film. Directed by the actor Jonah Hill,
this chronicle on a backdrop of skateboard in L.A.
was noticed by the critics as the first movie of a genius director.
What is all this really about ?
By Franck Lebraly
Reading time 3 min.
Jonah Hill, used to roles in comedies (Supergrave, 21 Jump Street) and noticed for his more serious performances in The Wolf of Wall Street or the Netflix tv show Maniac, makes his director debut with 90s, a semi-autobiographic movie. Like his young hero, Hill spent his teenage years in L.A., roaming the pavement on his skateboard. It looks like mixing skateboarding and L.A. is a miracle recipe in pop culture.
Far from social networks
However, there are not that many movies about skateboarding. Surely, Larry Clark made it a central element of his cinematic universe, from Kids (1995) and WassUp Rockers (2006) to The smell of Us (2014). Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park (2007) even looks like a by product of this franchise. Should we mention Lords of Dogtown (Catherine Hardwicke, 2005) ? A damp squid that was supposed to be directed by Katrhyn Bigelow, recounting the story if the Z-Boys, skateboarding in empty swimming pools during the 70s in L.A. and feeding the underground culture from the 80s to nowadays. Or wether Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985), iconic movie starring the fantastic over-board. This year, we have to acknowledge Crystal Moselle‘s Skate Kitchen, a contemporary girl gang version of 90s taking place in New York.
Our MTV years
In Hill’s movie, Stevie — played by the surprising Sunny Suljic, is lost in the middle of a violent brother, an overwhelmed mother and a nonexistent father. He will find himself when meeting a group of skateboarders and adopting their attitude. We are in the middle of the 90s and we scroll through this conter-culture of hot pavement like the pages of a brand catalogue and bands that still exist nowadays : Street Fighter 2 and Mob Deep, Beavi & Butthead and Independent, Champion and The Pixies, Polo Sport and Sunny Delight… Perfectly regressive, this inventory reminds us of a beautiful childhood, between hormones and budding freedom, far from social networks and likes, when you could still remake the world from your neighbourhood.
90s is a snack that we taste in 4/3, just like those films we used to watch between music videos on MTV. It is the format that Jonah Hill chose to tell this story, in between a documentary and an indie grainy movie. The camera sneaks in, and shows us different spots in L.A.. Skateboarding becomes the symbol of a rich social fabric, where people from any social backgrounds mix up. Needing balance as much as it brings it to riders, 90s is an atmosphere movie, where secondary characters are here to fulfill quotas of drug, alcohol and flirt. Although it has its flaws and limits, the movie received positive feedbacks, appreciating that this nostalgic chronicle had the elegance of not idealizing the 90s.