Reality Bites - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Reality Bites Reviews

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½ August 28, 2016
"All you have to be at twenty-three is yourself," a character reassures Winona Ryder's Lelaina after an occupational crisis leaves her feeling worthless in 1994's "Reality Bites." But such positively-minded messages are easier said than done when one's life appears to be crumbling uncontrollably. Following a five year stint at a respected university, most expect to find success immediately, and the lull that oftentimes occurs shortly after graduation commences is capable of being soul-crushing. You can thumb through the autobiographies of all your childhood heroes and notice that the majority of them did not become icons in their mid-twenties all you want, but when you have yourself to live with and you're not meeting your own high standards, it's hard to tell yourself that good things are waiting around the corner when everything seems to be falling apart.
In the twenty-two years since its release, "Reality Bites" has become a touchstone in the capturing of the woes that befell Generation X. Arguably, few other movies have so authentically portrayed the confusions and the lows of being a young adult trying to navigate the world. Its Helen Childress penned screenplay beautifully engages with the youthfully scary unknowns of marriage, professional happiness, and personal contentment, and the direction, by a twenty-nine year old Ben Stiller, validly characterizes such adversities and makes them universal.
The film follows the trials and tribulations that overtake the lives of a quartet of friends in the wake of college graduation. Their leader, Lelaina, was valedictorian but is struggling to find the right job in a field that isn't ready to have her. Her sidekick, Vickie (Janeane Garafolo), declares that all she learned in college was her Social Security number; currently, she's working as an assistant manager at the Gap, covering her misery in wry wit to tell herself otherwise. Sammy (Steve Zahn) is perhaps occupationally steady but is nonetheless tormented by his still being in the closet; and Troy (Ethan Hawke), whom Lelaina head-scratchingly considers to be her best friend, is a slacker who reassures his ego that his coffeehouse homed musical performances will eventually go somewhere bigger than himself.
We'll never know if these characters do end up finding the happiness they're all so desperately seeking -- focused on are their attempts to get to that point -- but while "Reality Bites" exceptionally distinguishes the frustrations of its characters and intelligently brings empathetic urgency to the bountiful dissensions that overwhelm people in their twenties, it fails in the creation of its central conflict, which is the love triangle that exists between Lelaina, Troy, and an older man, Michael (Stiller), who's also professionally interested in her.
Childress is convinced that the right guy for our leading lady is Troy, despite the fact that he's a selfish poser who reads ponderous novels immersed in existentialism as he combs his greasy hair and strokes his three-day beard, waiting for his next opportunity to humiliate her. He treats her badly more than he treats her right, but we're made to believe that it's all a ruse to cover inner conflict. He doesn't really mean to be so bad; some people are just unconventional in how they show their love for someone.
But supposedly Michael is miles worse, if only because he accidentally botches Lelaina's shot at notoriety. Though he's more considerate of, more interested in, and more patient with her than Troy could ever be, he's made as the film's villain, a backwards notion that dramatically inhibits "Reality Bites" from being the great movie it has the potential to be. When a film doesn't seem to know its characters as well as its audience does, irreversible is the damage done to its overarching success.
And so the movie is only occasionally terrific, greatly hindered by the reality that maybe it isn't so wise after all. But Ryder is luminous, Garafolo an embodiment of barbed shrewdness, Hawke genuinely detestable. "Reality Bites" is excellent until it isn't anymore, and it's a shame that it undermines its acumen with the forced fakery that it mostly curbs.
½ June 18, 2016
Lelaina Pierce: I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23.
Troy Dyer: Honey, all you have to be by the time you're 23 is yourself.
Lelaina Pierce: I don't know who that is anymore.
Troy Dyer: I do. And we all love her. I love her. She breaks my heart again and again, but I love her.
May 9, 2016
Not sure I had ever seen this before and this time saw only 2/3 of it. What a cast of current stars! I have to admit, to my great shock, that 1) Ethan Hawke is slowly starting to grow on me (MINUS the mustache), 2) Men playing guitar do not even come close to growing on me and 3) Ben Stiller was annoying even back in the early 90s. Did he have his teeth done or something???
May 4, 2016
A moderately funny, appropriately subversive, and very promising feature directorial debut for Ben Stiller. He definitely improved, but 'Reality Bites' is certainly not one to be written off. Winona Ryder is adorable.
March 21, 2016
Produção de Danny DeVito e Michael Shamberg com a direção inaugural de Ben Stiller e roteiro de Helen Childress. Reality Bites traz um elenco de peso: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke e Ben Stiller que fragilmente dirigi esse turbilhão de loucuras juvenis, o inicio é um conto promissor e excêntrico da juventude contemporânea, mas evolui para uma história de amor banal tão previsível quanto qualquer romance de Hollywood, vitimiza o elenco com falas bobas e situações bizarras resultando em romance extramente bobo.
½ March 8, 2016
An innocent and entertaining rom com
August 16, 2015
Ben Stiller's first directorial effort, and it's not bad, but nor is it a great comedy. It;s sort of a romantic dramadey, but it never really clicks into gear and is only really saved by the good cast - Hawke, Ryder & Garofalo are all good, but Stiller doesn't give himself too much to do. Decent premise - 'what do I do with my life after uni?", but it's hardly original or specific to any one generation. Overall = adequate.
½ July 28, 2015
Doesn't do anything new or inventive, but it particularly resonates with me as I'm in the exact same position.
½ April 21, 2015
Reality in putrid harmony.
November 14, 2014
The movie presents a keen look into Generation X but the unlikable characters muddle the film's overall likability.
½ November 10, 2014
This movie has a conventional plot of recent graduate angst. The characters are not well developed and those beyond the main character are more caricatures than anything else. The movie does have an interesting beginning but it just suddenly ends with a contrived resolution
November 2, 2014
American indie not at it's best. Almost all of the characters were unlikeable although I have seen worse from Ryder.
½ September 9, 2014
This is pretty funny, the script in particular is mostly caustic and witty. Probably best viewed if you're just out of uni and the love story can probably be best ignored completely as we stray into 'Dawson's Creek' territory a little there...but hey, I LOVE 'Dawson's Creek'.
½ August 26, 2014
It's not necessarily a great movie, but more of a time capsule of social commentary about an indecisive generation. Winona Ryder is at the height of her career here is really the most memorable part of the movie with a character that's multi-dimensional. The others just fit into an archetype. The soundtrack is still classic!
Super Reviewer
August 16, 2014
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.
August 9, 2014
(First viewing - 4/23/2009)
August 2, 2014
20 years later, still the same stories. People in their 20s trying to figure things without role models, after the generation before us sold us for a pair of sneakers (Apple products maybe today?) My favorite 90s IT girl Winona movie, and one of my favorite Ethan Hawk films. This films is so vulnerable and ageless. And one of the best phrases you'll ever here is quoted in this film "All you have to do by the time you're 23, is yourself"
July 22, 2014
i really liked the premise of the film, like the whole artsy college students trying to make it after they finish school. i also liked the cinematography of the film, with the documentary-style filmmaking. there's also something idealistic about the young lifestyle of the characters. but in terms of the plot and character, it was nothing special, and a little bit too 90s at times. ben stiller was much more tolerable though, and winona ryder was actually pretty .... oh how the times change.
½ July 15, 2014
90's angst at it's finest!
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