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Reality Bites
June 10, 2006

Reality Bites — Wow, that didn’t age well. In the 90s, it seemed to have something to say about searching for meaning in life, but now, I think it was more just seeing people my age on screen. IMDB says that screenwriter Helen Childress was in her first year of college when she wrote this, which explains a lot.

Reality Bites
Reality Bites
Buy this DVD

Whatever happened to Ethan Hawke? Why bother to put Steve Zahn in this movie? (He’s wasted, since he gets like three scenes and his role seems there just to say “gay people’s parents don’t always accept them”.) Why is Winona Ryder dressing like a 30s farm wife? Have never-ending pop culture references in the place of meaningful thought always been that annoying?

It’s hard to enjoy what is at core a romance when you think the girl makes the wrong choice. Ethan’s character seems dreamy when you’re young — he’s in a band, he knows her soooooo well (or so she thinks), he’s cute in a scruffy living-on-your-couch kind of way — but once you grow up, you wonder just how long he’ll stick around until he wanders off somewhere else. Plus, loser artist gets boring after a while. Ben Stiller’s young exec is slick, incoherent, and clueless, but he also seems to have more honest feeling underneath.

One of the key scenes in hte movie is how Winona’s character flunks a job interview at a newspaper when she can’t define “irony”. How ironic is it, then, that the trailer for this film strongly resembles what the MTV-like channel cuts her “meaningful” documentary into.

Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” is still way cool, and the interview with her on the disc is informative.

5 Responses  
Sarah writes:  

Even when I was in college, I recognized Ethan Hawke’s character as an ass.

 
Dan Coyle writes:  

I saw this years after the release, and I saw Stiller’s character as flawed but basically decent, and Hawke seemed surprised his character was meant to be the protagonist.

 
Dave Mahlin writes:  

Yikes… Well, I always thought this one was a stinker but it did have a great soundtrack CD (actually, any CD with “Tempted” on it is gonna be pretty good…). I actually saw this one twice- on two consecutive days. Beleive it or not, it was so bad I HAD to go see it again just to see if it was the movie or just the mood I was in. Definitely, it was the movie. In my defense, I was unemployed at the time and had a lot of free time on my hands. And it was at the bargain cinema. Thank god, those days are long gone…

 
Dave Mahlin writes:  

While I’m at it, here’s Roger Ebert’s review. I frequently disagree with him but he nailed this one:

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19940218/REVIEWS/402180303/1023

 
Johanna writes:  

Thanks for the link. Some mean lines in there, but they’re accurate.

 
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