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Reality Bites
Reality Bites
Actors: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller
Director: Ben Stiller
Genres: Comedy
PG-13     1998     1hr 39min

Ben Stiller's directorial debut was this sporadically successful twentysomething comedy that tries too hard to codify the generational experience of its young adult characters. Winona Ryder plays a still-unformed woman str...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller
Director: Ben Stiller
Creators: Bill Finnegan, Danny DeVito, Lori-Etta Taub, Michael Shamberg, Sheldon Pinchuk, Stacey Sher, Helen Childress
Genres: Comedy
Sub-Genres: Ben Stiller
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 07/22/1998
Original Release Date: 02/18/1994
Theatrical Release Date: 02/18/1994
Release Year: 1998
Run Time: 1hr 39min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

A classic!
Schmerman the Merman | United States | 11/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This movie changed my life. How? The books that the character 'Troy' (Ethan Hawke) either reads or references in the movie. Sure, it's a great movie but what meant the most for me was the director's or writer's (or whoever it was) choice to use or reference the following books: Martin Heidegger's "Being and Time", Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and John Steinbeck's "The Winter of Our Discontent". Read those books and you will be forever changed!

Stereotyped Bid for Hipness
Andrew Ellington | 05/04/1999
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Why are so many of these films that supposedly "define a generation" composed of nothing but media stereotypes and cliches? Sitting through this thing was like chowing down on a zweiback from 1979: simultaneously childish and stale. There were no insights into "our" generation that didn't seem gleaned by some fogey from back issues of Details Magazine, and the characters were so thoroughly bratty and loathsome I wanted them all to get fired and locked in some dusty Gap storeroom. "Capturing the Zeitgeist" aside, it wasn't even believable as an ordinary movie about people. Everyone was a cliche (slacker genius, yuppie, wounded gay, needy hedonist...), and the situations unlikely without being funny.This should be a lesson to film-makers who script condescending movies about a youth culture they don't understand: get at least something right. If you're hopelessly unhip, at least try to engage our interest with a good story or fresh characterizations. If you have no orthodox film-making talent, show us something new about ourselves. This sham does neither."
This reality feels just right...
Andrew Ellington | I'm kind of everywhere | 08/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I think that `Reality Bites' has been unfairly labeled as thin and hollow. I actually feel as though the film tackles its issues with grace and delicacy, handling the subject in a way that feels complete when the credits begin to roll. The film was never meant to be a weighty message type film but more a relaxed look at real concerns of the youths of the 90's (or `Generation X'). For what it sets out to do, I think `Reality Bites' works very well. When you couple the finely crafted script with the exceptional cast and Ben Stiller's surprisingly attune direction you have a very entertaining and satisfying cinematic experience.

The film follows a group of friends after they graduate from college and struggle to decide what to do with their lives. Their lives in general are being documented by Lelaina, an aspiring filmmaker. She passes around her video camera asking her friends intimate questions and capturing their every moment on film in order to document the struggles of the average young adult. Her friends include the promiscuous Vickie (Garofalo in a sublime supporting performance), the slacker Troy and the closeted Sammy. Together they make for an interesting group, and when you add in Michael Grates, a video executive who takes a liking to Lelaina after a fender-bender causes them to meet.

The script allows the cast to really sink into the issues their breed of young adult faces in a world that is not ready to accept them despite the fact that they are finely crafted. They are over-educated and under-appreciated and cast into a world that doesn't `get' them. Each actor really grabs hold of their character and delivers a strong and passionate performance. Janeane Garofalo is wonderful as Vickie, really getting the sense of her characters fears and ambitions. Steve Zahn is good as Sammy, but he does take a backseat to the rest of the cast. Ethan Hawke and Ben Stiller are both superbly cast as the two opposite ends of Lelaina's love life. Hawke creates a very believable mess inside of Troy, and Stiller finds new depths of sincerity in order to make Michael a likable and nearly lovable man. The real star is Winona Ryder though, who just illuminates each scene as Lelaina. She had such a wonderful year (with this and her Oscar nominated turn in `Little Women') that it is a shame to see that her star has faded to date.

In the end I must say that I was very impressed with `Reality Bites', and am pleasantly surprised to say that it is one of the hidden (or maybe more or less misunderstood) gems of the year that was 1994. Sure, the year in general was not overly impressive (aside from a few amazing films it was rather dull), but `Reality Bites' is one of the highlights of the year, and is definitely better than the film that ultimately won Best Picture (don't hate me because I'm right)."
Yes, Reality Bites Sometimes
David Anderson | St. Cloud, MN | 02/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Reality Bites" stars Oscar nominees Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, plus Ben Stiller, Jeneane Garofalo, and Steve Zahn. Ben Stiller makes his fine directorial debut in this film. This is a great coming-of-age comedy proving that being independant isn't as great as it looks. The plot of four college graduates moving into a house together is highly entertaining, especially considering all four people have opposite personalities. All of them combined as one adds lots of laughs: a college valedictorian, a sexually active person, a non-motivated rocker, and a mellow person hiding a secret. Comedy and drama combine in the perfect scenes, namely everyone's life struggles, the making of the documentary, and falling in love. Though certain life aspects could have been expressed more thoroughly, the film ideas are brilliant. The acting from all the performers are great, especially Winona Ryder. All offer their own movie theme perspectives, which are mastered greatly. "Reality Bites" is a great memory flashback from a great entertainment era, the mid-90's. This will surely entertain many audiences."