Reality Bites - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Reality Bites Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 17, 2008
A movie I have seen several times over the years, including when it first came out at the cinema.
While it's not perfect, and not an absolute favourite, I do enjoy it. Particularly Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofolo. Vicky, in particular was a very good character. I love her look and quirky personality.
I do find Ethan Hawke's Troy an absolute twat, and that has only increased over the years. I can't believe he's the supposed hot guy you are meant to feel for. A womanising, chain smoking slacker. Mmm. Does it for me.
Ben Stiller's character is a bit too yuppie to really cheer on, but he's preferable to Troy.
Quite nostalgic 90's viewing and some good music on the soundtrack including Juliana Hatfield.
Super Reviewer
July 10, 2012
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. 
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2012
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?
Super Reviewer
½ June 14, 2006
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.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2011
Tragic hipsters swallow the empty existence of their lives and discover (gulp!)
that the taste is good. Viewers get to count cool cultural references delivered as wisdom in the meantime. Entertaining though vacuous.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2010
"There's no point to any of this. It's all just a... a random lottery of meaningless tragedy and a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know... a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good, the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain, the moment where your laughter become a cackle... and I, I sit back and I smoke my Camel Straights and I ride my own melt."

Generation X Graduates face life after college with a filmmaker looking for work and love in Houston.

Reality Bites combines an independent movie feel with a cast of Hollywood's best without compromising the integrity of either. Although never given the respect that it deserves, it remains somewhat of a cult favorite. Although the film is often dumped in the romantic comedy category, it barely fits there. It goes far beyond that genre into social commentary, drama, documentary, musical, and more. The sound track is one of the best and best utilized in movie history. The movie watches like a music video. By far the cast makes the film. Ryder and Hawke put in first rate performances, and are surrounded by a set of great actors who steal every sequence. Ben Stiller both stars in and directs this excellent movie, but please, don't group it with the rest of the movies he's made. It's much, much better.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2010
A look at the generation that was supposed to be in the now, Reality Bites is still relevant, funny, and creative. Ben Stiller should be proud.
Super Reviewer
February 5, 2010
My interest level seemed to go up and down throughout this movie, even though I can relate to the subject matter.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2009
A great drama/comedy that is so surreal and relatable. One of my favorite things about it is that it isn't as dated as you'd think. A lot of the same issues are being dealt with today. I loved Ethan Hawke, he's such a brutally honest character. If only everyone could take a page out of his book once in a while. Winona Ryder was also really good at playing such a naive-yet-lovable character.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2009
It was kinda good movie I was expecting a lil bit more drama or climax in this movie but it was all kinda mellow all through out. In this study of Generation X manners, Lelaina, the valedictorian of her college class, camcords her friends in a mock documentary of posteducation life. Troy is her best friend, a perpetually unemployed musical slacker. Vickie is a manager at the Gap who worries about the results of an AIDS test, while Sammy has problems grappling with his sexuality. When Lelaina meets Michael, an earnest video executive who takes her homemade video to his MTV-like station, she must decide what she values the materialism of yuppie Michael or the philosophical musings of Troy.
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2008
Sometimes I have the most unreasonable attractions to movies. I know this topic has been covered time and time again, and the ending was complete copout - and by complete I mean COMPLETE - but then I think about the twenty something GenX dialogue, and the constant pop culturing, and the time-tried tug-of-war between reality and ideals, and the difficulties of finding a job and keeping your identity at the same time, and what to do with yourself after college, and sticking with the guy you know you love forever even though it gets so freaking complicated you want to die, and selling out to the corporate monolith but liking it, and the compromising of artistic vision, and feeling pretentious over those who are more successful than you, and the feeling of being simultaneously overloved and underloved at the same time, and the times where inertia overcomes and all you want to do is watch tv and chain smoke forever and talk to a psychic for hours on end, but kicking back and bitching with your friends makes you feel that much better even though nothing has changed, and...oh gosh I could go on and on - everything about this movie is ME. Wino 4ever!
Super Reviewer
November 26, 2008
An overrated movie about indie hipster trash. If you can relate to these characters I might suggest sucking on the barrel of a gun.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2007
One of Ben Stiller's finest comedies.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2007
Movie about college mates. Good cast.
Super Reviewer
½ November 20, 2006
Winona Ryder's devastating beauty aside, there's really no reason to watch a movie about Generation X. Unless you're doing a science project.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2012
Reality Bites is a '90s dark comedy cult classic film from director Ben Stiller. The story surrounds an aspiring documentarian who follows her friends who struggle to find their way in post-college life. The film has a strong cast that includes Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, and Ben Stiller. Ryder and Stiller give especially compelling performances and have a good onscreen chemistry. However, the film tries too hard at times to be culturally relevant; addressing everything from the Gap to AIDS. Still, it has a compelling story with some edgy comedic satire. Reality Bites is a fun and entertaining film that provides an interesting take on the youth culture of the '90s.
Super Reviewer
½ April 15, 2012
An initially strong mid-90s' romantic dramedy that falters in the third act. The chemistry between all the actors involved works very well, specifically the tension between both Ryder and Hawke. But the script doesn't seem to understand its' own characters very well; the 'villain' character, Stiller, is far more interesting and likable than the supposed protagonist. Yet the film refuses to take the road less traveled by, and becomes cliched in the end. Still, it is personally authentic, and sometimes poignant, during the first two acts, giving the film a lot of merit, but also setting the stage for some later disappointment.

3.5/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
July 16, 2006
This is a genuinely high-quality teen movie. The story is filled with plenty of hard-hitting tragedy and quirky comedy, all brought to its full potential by a solid cast of talented actors. Ethan Hawke's role was particularly powerful for me, but Winona Ryder definitely matches him. Very highly recommended.
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2008
The tagline for the film is "A comedy about love in the 90's", but a more appropriate tag would be "life" in the 90's. The film focuses on Lelaina (Winona Ryder), valedictorian of her college, who upon graduation wants to stat making a difference in the world. Unfortunately, life gets in the way of her ambitions and she finds she has a hard enough time surviving in the world.

Reality Bites has the potential to strongly resonate with viewers of my generation; I don't know a single friend who managed to make a seamless tradition from high school to college to the "real world", myself included. The backdrop for Lelaina's struggles is a romance between herself and Michael (Ben Stiller), a corporate yuppy who is the opposite of everything she wants to be, yet she finds herself strangely attracted to.

And then, of course, there is Troy (Ethan Hawke). Clearly there is strong chemistry between the two, but Troy, while brilliant, is content to coast through life and stay away from the corporate world. Troy and Michael represent polar opposites, and Lelaina must learn more about herself before she can decide who she wants to be with. I thought the ending wrapped this message up perfectly.

This was Ben Stiller's directorial debut, and he has since only created zany comedies. Which is a shame; Reality Bites shows the depth of his talent as a director, and is unquestionably my favorite of his films.
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