Jonah Hill’s De­but Cap­tures Real Skate Cul­ture

Exclaim! - - SCREENSHOTS - By Josiah Hughes

LIKE PUNK OR METAL, SKATE­BOARD­ING IS A HIGHLY SPE­CIFIC SUB­CUL­TURE THAT HOL­LY­WOOD AL­MOST AL­WAYS GETS WRONG. That’s chang­ing this year, how­ever — fol­low­ing Crys­tal Moselle’s ex­cel­lent Skate Kitchen, Jonah Hill’s Mid90s is an­other that man­ages to cap­ture just how cool skate­board­ing re­ally is.

“I think [Hill] just re­lated to a time when he ac­tu­ally skated, so he knew what it was like,” pro skater-turned-ac­tor Na-kel Smith says. “It wasn’t re­ally an out­sider’s per­spec­tive try­ing to shape up some­thing they think is cool, or fun-look­ing. He’s tak­ing a life­style that’s a part of him. He’s telling that story.”

Smith could’ve sniffed out any pos­tur­ing from a mile away. Af­ter all, he’s skated for hip brands like Supreme, Fuck­ing Awe­some and Adi­das, and served as a mem­ber of the Odd Fu­ture col­lec­tive. With Mid90s, he’s proven he has some act­ing chops too.

“It’s def­i­nitely a form of ex­pres­sion that I didn’t know I had un­der my belt,” he says. “The thing about act­ing is you want it to feel real. It’s more about tak­ing life ex­pe­ri­ences and emo­tions and bot­tling those up, and be­ing able to open that bot­tle and take a sip.”

He’s man­aged to do just that with Ray, a char­ac­ter that serves as a source of wis­dom and kind­ness in a film packed with toxic mas­culin­ity. Fed up with his home life, pre-teen Ste­vie (Sunny Suljic) finds his way in with a pack of skate rats who bond over de­bauch­ery and trash talk. When he needs it most, Ray is there to of­fer guid­ance.

“That’s how you know who your true friends are,” Smith says. “Be­cause any­body can make a joke and laugh, but what’s some­body go­ing to do when your back is against the wall or when you’re up­set or when you’re de­pressed. That’s how you know who you want around you.”

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