As a kid growing up in the 90s, the intro really spoke to me immediately. The screen was filled to the brim with things I remember vividly and things not so vividly but it was striking to to notice just how easy it was to sum up this decade visually. I’m remember it being such a jumble when I turned 14 in 2000. Back then it was easy to see an era captured in film and notice it as either being the 80s or 70s but the main themes of the 90s hadn’t coagulated yet for me. Now it seems almost too easy. Now as I’ve mentioned in other reviews I grew up in Logan, Utah and long story short that is a very religious little mountain town. We were not as exposed to as much as those in the big cities but it would be unfair to assume we were completely out of the loop. My friends and I had our older brothers and sisters that were as Mormon as you could imagine but we also had our siblings who were caught up in the weed and drink and calling each other “fags” or “gay” for saying something as simple as “thank you”.
As the film rolls along and I see this main character of Stevie trying so hard to be cool and fit in it immediately reminded me of my buddy Steve and I. Stevie is kind of an amalgamation of the both of us. If you took him and this group of skateboarders and just switched out a bit of the hip hop elements with stuff that was a bit more punk rock and nümetal And had em sit around chatting it would be eerily similar to Steve and I’s crew. Steve was the slightly older one who was actually pretty solid on a board, I tried and never quite got it down. I ended up being the mouthy one from time to time that held the camera and helped make our skate videos. As you can probably tell by now this movie is such a bizarro snapshot of a time in my life that it’s hard not to love it. Considering this I’d assume I’d be very picky about the acting and mannerisms of these characters but I gotta say it feels very natural and true to life. When the film escalates it really started to mess with me because the dramatic beats took me back to my own teenage freak outs and rebellions. I suppose that really is one of the best things a film can do is scoop out the stories from your own life, toss em in a blender, and splash it on the screen all remixed so you can look at the same story with a new angle or perspective.
All the ancillary elements of the film work perfectly to compliment this story as well.
The soundtrack is not exactly what I listened to when I was this age but I certainly nostalgically adore these songs now so I was pleased to see them pop up in this film. The score is also something I’m just immediately going to like cause it’s a Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross score and they’ve made some of my favorite scores of the last decade. I was truly surprised to see they did the score though since their scores tend to be a bit more dark and brooding, I was pleased but I wouldn’t say surprised that they created a floating ethereal soundscape that truly allows the film to float along in moments where there’s no dialogue or a 90s track to remind you that, YES, this is the 90s.
Jonah Hill is a promising Director with this one. I’m excited to see what he does next. When Jonah Hill first came on the scene I didn’t enjoy him much but with each thing he does I respect him more and more and it makes me appreciate what he’s done in the past more in hindesight.
Overall this movie hit everything on my checklist and it moved me way more than I was expecting. It reminded me of things I’ve loved and missed for sometime now as I lose my hair, worry about bills, and try my best to avoid a beer belly. Yet it also reminded me of moments in my life I’d rather leave in the past. Sometimes these nostalgic films can really lean so hard on the memories you hope to live again that they forget to touch on the things we should leave in the past. This film does a fantastic job of presenting both.