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Without sharing any spoilers, boy does she end up with the wrong guy. You would think there would be some character development but these numb nuts are just as self-centered and immature at the beginning and the end. And the main characters are deeply repulsive. ugh.
As a nineties teen, this movie was my jam. Watching it again as an adult in my thirties, some of it is certainly dated, but it feels like a fun nostalgia piece. If one could possibly harken back to the good old days of aids tests, greasy hair, chain smoking and working at the gap with fondness- then this is the movie for you.
It's fun to see Winona Ryder in her heyday, Ben Stiller as a hot Saab driving yuppy and Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo and many others at the start of their careers. The soundtrack is one of the very best examples of eighties and nineties indie and alt music and makes the film extra fun. What it lacks in substance, this movie makes up for with nineties fashions and sentiments- in spades. Definitely worth the nostalgic journey or as an intro to the 90s as an era...
Reviewed in the United States on December 29, 2019
The GenX-ers that I know did not behave this way as young adults -- whether or not they graduated college -- and, being a parent of a GenX-er, I know many hard-working and successful X-ers. This movie may accurately portray young adult slackers, but that portrayal can be applied to any generation with just a few minor tweaks. As such, "Reality Bites" is an undeserved bashing of X-ers and unfairly stereotypes an entire generation.
"Reality Bites" is a movie that I found (and still find) to be very close to the real life experiences people who leave the safety of college face. If you are in your late 30s or early 40s and kinda settled in your ways and job, you probably won't get this movie anymore. You are too grown up and the issues these mid-20 something kids are facing will seem trivial and nonsensical to you. Heck, even the actors, in the movie's "special features" section - especially Steve Zahn and Ethan Hawke, as well as Ben Stiller - don't really get the characters they played 16 years ago anymore. They talk about how childish their struggles in retrospect seem to have been and how bratty and ungrateful they find their characters now that they themselves have reached their mid-late 30s, early 40s and apparently figured out what life is all about: "having a career or something..." I guess that's where the true tragedy lies: no longer being able to identify with your idealistic, hopeful, driven young self of the past anymore.
This movie is about four friends who face life - Reality - right after college. Leleina's (Winon Ryder) speech at the beginning of the movie about what her generation is going to do with the damage they have inherited and a poignant "I dont know" as a response sum it up pretty well. She is the valedictorian of her college and an aspiring documentary film maker. She walks around with her camera filming her friends, asking them lots of personal and intimate questions about themselves and life in order to eventually create a documentary that will mean something. She wants to make a difference in the world and just like any hopeful college student, was imagining that she would "be somebody" after all the hard work she put in thus far. Little did she know that Reality just doesnt work that way. It's hard to be a saint in a paradise that is crumbling and when paying your rent takes precedence over making a meaningful difference in someone's, or even your own, life.
She shares an apartment with her nerdy-hip friend Vicki Miner (Janeane Garofalo) who is a cynical yet at the same time strangely idealistic girl working at The Gap as a manager. Even though she is hip and goofy she is also lonely and feels like she is pursuing hollow ambitions. She graduated college, but the only thing she really seems to have remembered is her social security number, which she can recite to Leleina even when she is drunk and stoned at the same time. If you've gone to college in the 90s, you'll know that your social is just about the most important and over-used thing ever.
Their gay friend Sam (Steve Zahn), who seems very tight with Vicki, has even less of a clue about what he wants to do with his life now that he graduated. He is shy and has not come out to his mother yet about being gay. He thinks he needs to have a career of some sort, but just like his counterparts, is floating adrift in a sea of cluelessness about not only who he is but also what is expected of him.
And then finally there is Troy Dyer, brilliantly acted by Ethan Hawke. Troy is a rebel, the freethinker, the "what's-it-all-mean" guy. He is a philosophy major and was only a few units away from his BFA - and does not seem very interested in ever going back to finish up. He is superbly smart and could probably land a good paying job faster than any of his friends if he actually put some ambition and effort into it, but he doesnt want to. He is an artist and his music and philosophy mean a lot to him and he seems to have little use or respect for the establishment. His music and his philosophy mean so much to him that he is not willing to just give it all up so he can get that "toehold in the burger industry". His father is dying of cancer and he doesnt want to give up the one thing that means something to him and then end up like him, with tumors growing in his groin. He is madly and secretly in love with Lelaina and because that is the only non-cynical emotion he has, he has a hard time telling her to her face how he feels about her or even fully commit. He dates a lot of faceless girls whose names he often doesnt remember and whose phone numbers he can memorex even less.
Troy is the most interesting and intriguing character in this movie as he just symbolizes the struggle his generation is facing so poignantly and realistically. The philosopher and artist inside him refuses to sell out for a steady paycheck and an equally meaningless and meager profession that will catapult his life into a boring, meaningless and existential rut. He takes pleasure in the details, like "quarter pounders with cheese, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment your laughter becomes a cackle..." and all he and Leleina apparently need are 5 bucks, a coffee and good conversation. He steals a Snickers from the gas station he works at, stating that the establishment "owed him Snickers" and gets fired. When he moves in with Leilana and Vicky, Vicky says that it is only temporary until "he can afford his own place". Lelaina responds that this was the American dream of the 90s and could take years. Indeed. Even in the 2010s, if you can afford your own place by the time you are 35, you are lucky. The Dream never seems to end for Americans.
The diametrical opposite to Troy is Michael Grates (Ben Stiller). He is a bit older, a few years out of college and pretty much grounded in reality. He takes an interest in Leleina after he runs into her car by accident and has her come to his office only to find out that she is broke and cannot afford a law suit. When he first comes over to the "maxi pad" (as Vicky calls their apartment), Troy mistakes him for a "collection agent". Michael is precisely what Troy does not want to be: he wears a suit, he has a boring corporate job selling out, a steady income; in a way he has "conformed" to the system and he has learned to walk the line of adulthood and idealism: he is a grown-up who has learned that sometimes you gotta wrap the meatloaf in attractive wrapping (i.e. make concessions) to sell it. Troy of course thinks he's the reason Cliff's notes were invented.
This is a great movie that captures the Zeitgeist of Generation X pretty accurately. I cannot describe the so many ways in which the struggles these college graduates go through truly resembles the reality for many people in their age and place. I've lived nearly every moment and spoken nearly every dialog said in this movie in my own life. They are overeducated and underpaid and, literally, from one day to the other, have to come to terms with the fact that all the hard work they put into their education and idealism is not going to become a reality - at least not anytime soon and definitely not the way they imagined it would. Troy resists this disillusionment as much as he can - which is what makes him so appealing as a character: he represents the "I wont surrender" scream we all wished we had yelled out at some point in our lives to declare our independence. But we all know that - as if he was trapped in quicksand - Troy will be sucked into accepting this biting Reality at some point in his life as well because it will sneak up on you. Let's just hope he does not end up like his father.
Movie has always been fantastic. However, it was not loading via the fire stick/tv - only web browser version would load. Call me old fashion, but I still have a freaking TV and would rather watch it on a 50 inch plus screen vs a phone or laptop.
Reviewed in the United States on September 5, 2016
This movie holds up! OMG - I first watched this film when it came out. I was a high school student. It really reminds me of the grunge era and the struggle for identity. Selling out was about the worst thing you could do...times really change, but great acting and plot remain constant! Loved it.
Good movie about the ups and downs of a group of friends after college. Ethan Hawke did a great job playing the arrogant, lost young guy who has trouble revealing his real feelings about anything. Wynona Ryder is the object of his affection.
3.0 out of 5 starsGeneration X slacker style movie
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 22, 2017
This a mid 1990s Generation X movie with Winona Ryder having just graduated from Uni. From the optimism of the 1960s and changing the world, the baby boomer generation is embroiled in divorce and lecturing Generation Xers on a lack of a work ethic. Despite the loss of the full employment economy and the move to the often lower paid service sector, the Generation Xers are funnier with a more sarcastic or surreal style humour than the previous generation. This is often vital when you are overqualified and underpaid. Reality bites is a show made by Ryder which is a forerunner of today's reality TV, which shows you should never trust a TV Editor!! I would also add it doesn't really capture the grunge music scene at the time which in retrospect really should have been there.
5.0 out of 5 starsReality Bites is a good film and Ben Stiller is a good actor.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 10, 2016
Reality Bites is a good comedy film. It stars actor Ben Stiller in one of his early roles and it also stars Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke. It was also directed by Ben Stiller. It also stars American actor Joe Don Baker as Winona Ryder's father. I also like Ben Stiller in a film. His other good films include Meet The Parents which had two sequels Meet The Fockers and Little Fockers which also star another good film actor Robert DeNiro. Ben Stiller also starred in the film Dodgeball and The Watch two films that also star Vince Vaughn.
Reality Bites. One of the best feel good movies to come out of the '90's. A beautifully written screenplay - thanks to the enormous talent of Helen Childress. It has everything that a romantic comedy demands and much more. Ben Stiller not only provides great comedic value to the film but proves himself as a wonderful director - achieving a natural "fly on the wall" feel from all the actors. So many great moments that you'll remember forever. Great chemistry between Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder. Grabs you from the start and takes you through a unique journey of laughter and poignancy in the blink of an eye. This film will be part of your watch again and again collection.
Interesante film que retrata las problemáticas existenciales de la denominada "Generación X" o, lo que es lo mismo, a aquellos que tenían "veintipocos" años promediando los 90'. El argumento dista de ser complejo, no obstante los personajes bien definidos, la estética reconocible de la época y una magistral banda sonora la han convertido en un "must watch" para cualquiera que quiera rememorar aquellos tiempos o simplemente indagar sobre ellos
A light drama/comedy about beginning a different life and the work world after college. With Winona Rider, Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller and Steve Zahn. (1994, English, Français and Español languages with respective subtitles,99 mins.).
I've always loved Reality Bites so I bought this 20th anniversary bluray edition in order to update my 10th anniversary dvd copy. Just a note for anyone interested: this edition has no spanish or french subtitles, only english sdh (deaf and hard of hearing), it has french audio thought.