The life of a software expert witness involves quite a bit of “hurry up and wait.” Thus did I recently find myself in Easton, Pennsylvania waiting for things to move in the Federal Courthouse. After roaming the strip mall to find treasures for the kids, I spent an evening watching Mid90s.
Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t rate movies for wokeness, so maybe I can add that this movie should get a 40/100 on the wokeness scale. Positive: the only intelligent, wise, and ambitious youth in the movie happens to be African American. Negative: A 13-year-old enagages in sex acts with a woman of 17 or 18. The older sex partner is the initiator and therefore it is unclear if the encounter can truly be described as “consensual.” Certainly the 13-year-old does not explicitly say “yes.” Unlike the kids who’ve had sex with teachers recently, he is not damaged to the tune of $millions by this experience and, in fact, seems proud of it and happy to have had it. Definitely not in sync with our modern (enlightened/woke) thinking about youth sex.
The movie is primarily about this 13-year-old who is curiously undamaged by his sexual encounter. He is not loving life at home. The 36-year-old Mom started having sex with a long list of random guys beginning in the mid-70s. Two of the sexual encounters resulted in pregnancy and childbirth so the 13-year-old has a violent 18-year-old half brother. The mom’s sexual encounters with strangers have been reduced in frequency recently, but the 18-year-old reports that noise from these events would often disturb his sleep when he was young.
(Mom has enough money to sustain a middle-class LA lifestyle, but it is unclear if this is due to wages from work or child support from the biological fathers of the two boys. Her boys were born prior to the formulaic child support guideline system (history) so it may be the case that she didn’t get a lot of money out of them and/or that she didn’t have sex with men with sufficiently high income (California provides for unlimited child support revenue for single mothers who select high-income defendants; see this calculation of what Ellen Pao could have made by having sex with her boss).)
The 13-year-old escapes the half-brother and the mom by hanging out with older skateboarders, all of whom are burnouts except for the African American (see above). The stunts are pretty awesome and, I think, done by the actors themselves (but maybe Hollywood magic is hard to detect?). The movie is strong on teenage life before the helicopter parenting age. Adults don’t interfere too much with tribal activities and are seldom even seen.
There is a dramatic car crash in the movie, which makes me like it less. It is a cheap way to generate drama. One thing that I love about Sideways, for example, is that nothing unusual occurs. The filmmakers have to work harder to make the audience care. At the opposite end of the spectrum are movies where a main character becomes paralyzed or is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Mid90s is closer to Sideways, but not as pure in its rejection of the easy way to audience hearts.
Recommended.Full post, including comments