North Hollywood – Review

North Hollywood: Directed by Mikey Alfred

SYNOPSIS: A young man tries to become a professional skater.

I saw this thought on Letterboxd and I couldn’t agree more. This is a spiritual sequel to the hit Jonah Hill directorial debut, Mid 90s, which I absolutely loved. I mean, they even bring in the main kid, Sunny Suljic, for a nice cameo. Needless to say, I am a fan of the skateboarding in LA centric coming-of-age story. 

The first thing that I really enjoyed was the simplicity of the story. It is literally just kids skating and trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. It shows an authentic view of kids at one of the most important crossroads in their life and seeing where they take those roads. The father-son dynamic is also very intriguing and really carried by a nice subtle performance from Vince Vaughn. Some of the other performances are nice as well, I’ll give shoutouts to Miranda Cosgrove and Ryder McLaughlin for having some nice chemistry.

The best thing this film does is give you a perspective of kids trying to figure out what they are going to do with their lives while they have dreams of doing something that may be unobtainable. The determination of our main character is a driving force of the film that keeps it moving. 

This is far from a perfect movie though. It is a directorial debut from Mikey Alfred and it shows at times. The direction is more clunky and unrealized as opposed to the clear direction of say a Jonah Hill in Mid 90s. But, I did like the stylistic choices made and the skateboarding sequences are very well done. Alfred has a lot of promise and I think this was a very nice start to his directorial debut. Now the writing. The direction of the plot and story is fine, it’s fairly simple, not too boring. There is nothing really original about the story but I didn’t find that as a bad thing, just something that we’ve seen before.

But the dialogue. The dialogue is cringeworthy. I understand what they are trying to do, make it more authentic with proper slang, but it really did feel like the ‘how do you do fellow kids’ Steve Buscemi meme. It felt forced and far from authentic. This is a small nit-pick in the bigger scheme of the film, but it stood out so much to me that it took away from me. 

FINAL:

North Hollywood is a coming of age tale that has promise with some nice direction, an interesting father/son dynamic and a few nice performances. However, the lack of uniqueness or originality drags the film a bit and keeps it from being an instant classic of the genre. The dialogue seems out of place and disconnected and that took me out of the film. However, the promise is there and it has moments where it creeps through the cracks for some very nice moments. 

Point Breakdown:

25 for Entertainment 20

20 for Performances 18

10 for Direction 8

10 for Writing 6

10 for Emotions 7

10 for Cinematography 8

5 for Pacing 4

5 for Rewatchability 4

5 pts Automatic 5

North Hollywood: 80/100

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