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Reality Bites (1994)



Average Rating: 5.9/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 7

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 52,357

My Rating

Movie Info

Four recent graduates discover how difficult it is to find a decent job and true love after college.


Drama, Romance, Comedy

Helen Childress

Jul 21, 1998

MCA Universal Home Video - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (18) | DVD (18)

Ryder and Hawke bring crucial authenticity to their roles with effortless appeal. You'll find yourself wanting more of these characters than the movie gives you.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

However conventional Reality Bites resolves to be, it is always engaging. Best of all, Ryder has her greatest role since Heathers, once again proving herself a seriously funny young actress.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a good example of an anti-establishment comedy crippled by a seeming desire to infatuate the establishment itself. What Reality Bites needs most is a good bite. From reality.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Among the movie's strengths are the performances, especially that of Ryder, who comes across as bright, beautiful and more delicate than ever before.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When the movie is over, you don't feel as if you had shared the experience of a new generation; you feel puzzled and vaguely crummy, as if you had just read a solemn news-magazine cover story about it.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Yearning, hilarious, lost within their precocious self-awareness, these slackers have soul.

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gone is the fearless savagery Stiller smuggled into his TV series. Stuck between slacker and attacker, he settles for something curiously inert, slavishly mainstream and so hopelessly phony its own characters might make fun of it between bong rips.

February 25, 2014 Full Review Source:

For all its faults, this still has moments of hip charm.

August 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The screenplay by newcomer Helen Childress falls back on familiar formulas too often, but first-time director Ben Stiller keeps the action fast and involving even when you can't help guessing what the next story twist will be.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor

The smart script by 23-year-old newcomer Helen Childress doesn't lose sight of the characters and the issues that affect them and other young adults.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News

The best -- the brilliant -- bits of Reality Bites etch in epigram, anecdote and brittle, dazzling dialogue the inner life of young people who want desperately to believe but haven't decided in what.

March 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Baltimore Sun
Baltimore Sun

Comedy about 20-something slackers isn't for kids.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Remember Gen X? This is why you forgot it.

October 12, 2008

A surprisingly sweet romantic comedy debut from Ben Stiller.

May 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

A romantic heart, caustic wit, and the energy of its fresh cast ensure the film's continued appeal.

May 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

It's often genuinely funny -- but it's still an establishment picture pretending it's not.

August 7, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Ben Stiller's feature directorial debut is a zeitgeust comedy, whose significance is more sociological than cinematic--It's "The Big Chill" for the twentysomething crowd in the Age of Clinton and AIDS.

January 30, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Audience Reviews for Reality Bites

Troy Dyer: You can't navigate me. I may do mean things, and I may hurt you, and I may run away without your permission, and you may hate me forever, and I know that scares the living shit outta you 'cause you know I'm the only real thing you got. 

"A Comedy About Love In The 90's"

I didn't really know what I was getting myself into with Reality Bites, plot wise. I just saw that it was comedy directed by Ben Stiller, that had an excellent cast including: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and Steve Zahn; and that was enough for me. I can't sit here and say that Reality Bites is as important a film as it seems everybody involved thought it was. Basically, it's a lot like Linklater's Suburbia. It's all about a quartet of friends getting out of college and realizing that the world may not actually be their oyster. The real world isn't the walk in the park they thought it would be. No, they will have to deal with people that are hard to work with. They will have to put up with shit, just so they can pay the rent. And they'll have to do it all by themselves. As a character in the movie says, "The world doesn't owe you any favors." I'm sure Stiller would love to think that this film is anything more than a romantic comedy, but at the heart, that's all it is. But don't be too bummed that your film didn't quite make it the extra mile you wanted it to, because you still have a highly enjoyable and pretty well made Romantic Dramedy. 

Four friends are now out of college and living together. One works at the GAP, one works as a helping hand on a tv show, one is gay, and one is a genius, that is too smart to actually make a difference in the world. There's a lot of dialogue about their concerns on life, on what to do, and on who to love or how to love. The best part of this movie happens to be Ethan Hawke as Troy. This might possibly be the best performance I've ever seen from Hawke. He isn't one of my favorite actors out there, but I think he is a highly underrated actor. His character is one of the love interests of Winona Ryder's character. They've been friends for years, and could always talk to each other, but under the surface, there is something more between them. Overall, there's really nothing wrong with Reality Bites, except that maybe was trying to be more than it really is. But what it is, is good enough. 
July 10, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Not having seen this when it first came out and not having really lived through the early '90s, I still find this movie remarkably dated. Perhaps it's the grunge costumes or "The Real World"-esque yuppie ennui. There is some moving dialogue though:

Troy: Besides, everyone dies all by himself.
Michael: If you really believe that, who are you looking for out here?
June 23, 2012

Super Reviewer

Few films from the 90s portrayed the generation grunge and captured the spirit of that time as spot on as this and "Singles". Even today's kids should easily relate to the group of early Twens who dunno where to go with their lives after graduating from college. Their money, love and job issues are the center of attention here, like in everyone's life. Mixing the plot with video footage of our protagonist Lelaina interviewing her friends, there is a lot of random rambling, but with quite a few glimpses of congeniality. And, it always feels real. The film takes its characters and audience of the same age group seriously and knows exactly what's going on with them. Of course there is plenty of humor, but director Ben Stiller, long before his slapstick fame, keeps it realistic. The excellent soundtrack completes the picture and makes for an all around satisfying and true experience, even if it almost feels like from a different era already. The movie also foreshadowed the wave of reality TV that washed over us ever since.
February 16, 2012

Super Reviewer

Ben Stiller's first directing job. This drama/comedy about becoming an adult in/after college is really good. I saw it a while ago, but I remember it was good.
May 30, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Troy Dyer: You see Lainy, this is all we need. A couple smokes, a cup of coffee, and a little bit of conversation. You and me and five bucks.
    – Submitted by Lucy P (14 months ago)
    1. Lelaina Pierce: I just don't know why things can't go back to normal at the end of the half hour, like on Brady Bunch or something.
    2. Troy Dyer: Because Mr. Brady died of AIDS.
    – Submitted by Frances H (17 months ago)
    1. Troy Dyer: There's no secret handshake. There's an IQ prerequisite, but there's no secret handshake.
    – Submitted by Frances H (17 months ago)
    1. Troy Dyer: He's the reason why Cliff Notes were invented.
    – Submitted by Frances H (17 months ago)
    1. Michael Grates: I guess I'm a non-practicing Jew.
    2. Lelaina Pierce: Hey, I'm a non-practicing virgin.
    – Submitted by Frances H (17 months ago)
    1. Troy Dyer: Hello, you've reached the winter of our discontent.
    – Submitted by Frances H (17 months ago)
View all quotes (9)

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