Amir’s review published on Letterboxd:
"Jesus smokes KOOLS, nigga."
there are moments in this movie where i genuinely was happy, like i completely forgot about all the bullshit plaguing me, and i got to just enjoy watching kids skating together and their dynamics and their lives. there were moments that felt incredibly genuine, and there are scenes that Jonah crafts so lovingly (like when Ray puts together a skateboard for Stevie, a scene that has the patience not unlike that of a samurai forging a sword) and there is warmth, so much warmth. Sunny really does carry this movie and he does it so fucking well just with his eyes, y'know? all the actors that surround Sunny as his skate collective in this movie really play off each other so well, and how they grow and break and grow together (albeit in some incredibly cliche ways -- i'll get to that later) is something i really dug. there's a *lot* for me to like about this movie but it's *just* not enough for me to not notice a couple of glaring issues.
one of those issues being the women in this movie and the erasure of women skaters of that time period, which becomes especially glaring when you remember we got Skate Kitchen just a few months ago. but these issues extend not just to the image of women on boards, but women in general with this movie. Katherine Waterston, bless her beautiful heart, isn't really a character in this movie at all. some of the sexual politics are sketch af, and for a culture that was FILLED with women (some of whom did the shit better than their male counterparts), their exclusion felt ... a bit yikes. and i get it because the viewpoint Jonah has is the same one I have, and admittedly, it was pretty saturated with dudes.
but ultimately what this movie suffers from more than anything is there's no real sense of structure. scenes come and go, moments happen and aren't exactly commented on, characters don't have arcs...???? Lucas Hedges who as a character is an incredibly cool idea (an abusive brother lashing out at his younger brother but also having to co-habitat with him and harboring a lot of rage and toxic masculinity) but one that isn't capitalized on well. in fact Jonah's view of masculinity, right down to the slurs used ("saying thank you is gay." they say much...much worse slurs in particular) comes just a hair away from actually commenting on it, doing it such a roundabout way that it just comes across as "well that's just how they talked." and it's true and authentic (and characters that do end up pushing that aren't exactly the greatest representation of people -- kids guys), yes ... but just a little awareness might have helped a bit Jonah?
for all its issues though, idk, it just filled a little piece of me. a moment where i could just go back and watch people skating (something i did quite a lot growing up),and just seeing the community. two characters talk to a homeless man (who happens to be Del tha Funkee Homosapien !!!) about what skating does to someone and why they do it. and i was touched because it really is just a piece of wood they push on. they dab up and wish each other well, and it really does be that way sometimes. at the end of the day, Mid90s is an okay movie, that feels like a great (if problematic to a fault) memory.
SHOUT OUT JONAH BEAT CUTTING TO WATERMELON MAN oh and btw this soundtrack kills™