Winona Ryder's 'Reality Bites': PopWatch Rewind tries to figure out if Generation X was sarcastic or sincere

This is the true story of four friends who decided to live together in a house, and have their lives taped by the one who considers herself a “videographer” to find out what happens when people stop being polite…and start getting really, really obnoxious. Reality Bites: It sure does! Okay, full disclaimer: We are two snot-nosed members of Generation Y. The film was not made for us. We have no emotional attachment to it. But even though Reality Bites looks incredibly dated now — let’s be honest, it was dated one year after its initial 1994 release  — we both found the movie fascinating. It’s essentially a time capsule constructed entirely of flannel, denim, Big Gulps and pre-corporate alt-rock. At the center of the film is Winona Ryder, an actress who more or less defined her generation. Ryder has small roles in two current films — she’s a cheating wife in The Dilemma and an extremely Winona-esque dancer in Black Swan — and given Ryder’s difficult career arc in the last decade, you could argue that Reality Bites looks even more melancholy now, a vision of youth in all its naive idiot glory. Or maybe it’s just a film about naive idiots. 

Keith Staskiewicz: Ethan Hawke’s Troy is unable to hold any job, however menial, for fear that it would somehow render him inauthentic. I think it’s also what makes him so difficult to relate to for us. When this movie came out, it was just an accepted fact that his smoldering intellectualism and posturing was attractive. Now, he just comes off as pouty and condescending. I mean, he mistreats poor Winona, mooches off of her, and looks down his nose at people who listen to Peter Frampton despite the fact that his band isn’t much better.

Darren Franich: I find it absurd that anyone who’s not a masochist would find Troy attractive. He’s supposed to be a café-rock golden god, but he seems more like a Depression-era hobo. At one point, Troy is fired from his newsstand job for shoplifting, because, and I quote, “The establishment owes him a Snickers.” The establishment created the Snickers! Why does it owe you anything? And shouldn’t you hate Snickers, anyways, because it was created by the establishment?

KS: But you could argue that the movie does level some pretty accurate criticisms at Troy-like people.

DF: All movies in the Reality Bites genre — post-college “existential” movies with great soundtracks, like The Graduate, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Garden State — simultaneously deconstruct and exalt their generation. That’s why The Graduate looks good no matter how old you are: It’s either the perfect portrait of suburban boredom or a hilarious farce about a stupid kid who just can’t get a job, already. But Reality Bites has an added depth of generational particularity that those other movies lack. The screenplay is filled with nonstop references to pop culture and merchandise. You almost feel as if you’re watching a parody of a Generation X movie. Is Reality Bites an ironic film about irony? Does that make it sincere?

KS: Which is also a key question in the movie, when the newspaper lady asks Winona Ryder to define irony. And remember, this was 1994, so it was before “like rain on your wedding day” would be an acceptable answer. Here’s the thing: I’m not sure it’s accurate to expect the ultimate Gen X film to be covered in irony. Sarcasm, sure, they mastered that. But I always thought that Gen X was more defined by the need to be “real” or “authentic,” as opposed to being kitsch-obsessed or trapped in an Internet meme-fueled eternal return of repurposed ironies like us folks.

None of these haircuts would fly today.

DF: Keith, all this talk about reality and authenticity is making my head hurt. But it’s part of the reason why Reality Bites is actually a frustrating viewing experience. All of the characters rail against the mainstream, but they also seem to desperately desire to conquer the mainstream. Nobody’s talking about joining the Peace Corps, you know?

KS: It’s true, and that makes the characters seem insufferable. Look at Lelaina, Winona’s character. She wants to be in media, but she sabotages her job at a well-known early show and alienates her presumably well-connected boss just because he’s a jerk. She has no money, but when her friend offers her a job at the Gap where she works, she turns up her nose. She’s a documentarian, not some worker bee! Then she snottily asks her mother for money, and when her mom has the audacity to suggest that she get a job at a burger place for the time being, she makes a face as if she had just proposed she go spelunking in an outhouse. And finally, despite all her education, she is under-qualified to work at a hot dog stand (!) so she defrauds her father out of hundreds of dollars with a gas-station scheme.

DF: That gas station scheme is supposed to be hilarious — screw you, old man! But actually, this is exactly the kind of thing that caused the all the financial problems of the last decade. Instead of creating anything, she’s just moving cash around, and claiming a profit on it. So thanks for causing the Recession, Winona Ryder.

KS: We sound like a couple of sixty-year-old men expatiating at Thanksgiving about kids these days. But seriously, kids these days! Get a job young lady! If you want to be an actual filmmaker, I don’t know, maybe try finding subjects who aren’t you and your closest friends.

DF: Yeah, it’s a little hard to feel sorry for her when the “sell-out” version of her movie is kinda better than hers.

KS: I’ve been thinking: Maybe the reason the “sell-out” In Your Face TV version of Lelaina’s project didn’t provoke all that much outrage in us is that, when compared with modern-day reality TV, it looks like a Maysles brothers documentary. I mean, no midgets, housewives, Snookis or Gosselins? Give that thing an Emmy!

DF: We’re both younger than the original intended target audience for Reality Bites, and we could spend all day trying to parse the particular differences between Generation X and Generation Y. But I think it’s also important to point out that you and I are both older than the characters in the movie. They’re playing kids fresh out of college, which certainly goes a long way towards explaining their selfishness and their general dissatisfaction with the world. If you get past the notion that the characters in Reality Bites are supposed to be these iconic generational figures, I actually think the movie does a good job of capturing post-college aimlessness.

Oh, the real world will be hard for you.

DF: Really, all of these characters are very sad people — Janeane Garofalo is promiscuous, but only because she doesn’t want to let anyone get close to her. Steve Zahn’s barely-developed character is just coming out of the closet and is being shunned by his mom. Everyone is a child of divorce. When you think of it that way, you have to admire how Bites doesn’t necessarily try to resolve its characters’ faults. The problem is that it actually seems to put the stamp of approval on those same faults. Troy is redeemed just because his dad dies, not because he’s changed at all. He’s a douche, but now he’s a sad douche. What catharsis!

KS: I actually like this movie a lot more than it’s sounding. I just think that anyone who wasn’t in their early twenties when this came out will end up identifying more with Ben Stiller’s character. The trouble is, like Ben Braddock in The Graduate or Enid in Ghost World, I think a lot of viewers look at these characters as ideals rather than the deeply flawed, and deeply annoying, people that they are.

That hair is so pretty. Her hair's okay, too.

DF: Ryder is in the role that absolutely defined her…and, looking at her IMDb resume, might have defined her a little too well. What is it about Winona Ryder — the actress and the persona — that so completely beguiled a generation, only to so completely disappear?

KS: I think it may have been the fact that Ryder was genuinely weird. You could buy that she was a little off and interesting like the characters she played — whereas Zooey Deschanel is supposed to be an MPDG, but in real life she’d probably just bore you to death talking about crocheting and different varieties of vegan cheese. The whole shoplifting incident was so bizarre, because it doesn’t really seem like the kind of celebrity crime that would vanish your career. Charlie Sheen survives more criminal charges in the average day and he’s still the top-paid actor on television. Maybe it was more the fact that Hollywood didn’t know what to do with her once she moved out of her twenties, and so they used all that shoplifting hubbub as an excuse to down-grade her and replace her with, say, Natalie Portman. Which is essentially what happens to her character in Black Swan.

DF: Oh my god, Keith, I just realized. In Reality Bites, Winona Ryder plays a character who commits petty theft when her career is on a downswing, and in real life, Winona Ryder committed petty theft when her career was on a downswing. Also in the movie, Ben Stiller plays a genial, fabulously successful guy who has no problem completely selling out to the media in an attempt to occasionally do something interesting, and in real life he starred in Greenberg the same year he starred in Little Fockers.

KS: And Ethan Hawke just wants to create, man. And Janeane Garafolo is sarcastic. It all fits together!

DF: Are you being sarcastic?

KS: I can’t tell anymore!

Next Week: Winona 2.0 (Natalie Portman) stars in No Strings Attached, one of roughly 17 movies she’s starring in this year. We’ll return to her humble beginnings, when she was just an adorable little girl in love with a deadly assassin. Witness Luc Besson’s The Professional!

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  • Drew

    How can you call this movie dated?? I’m not from that generation either, but it’s still my favorite movie. The emotions and life changes people go through in their 20s will always stay the same, and this movie perfectly captured that. People may not wear the same clothes and listen to the same music, but everyone can still relate to it in some way.

    • mary q contrary

      I disagree, for the most part. I mean, you’re right about the emotions, but I honestly don’t know anyone who sits around consistently feeling sorry for themselves like the characters in this film do. Troy in particular always got under my skin. Why would these people actually continue to hang out with him? And I wasn’t the intended audience, either (I was 9 when it came out), but I do get the message they were trying to push. I just think they could have done it with a little more honesty and realism, which is funny, since I think that’s what they were going with in the first place. Oh, and the most interesting character in the entire movie was Steve Zahn, yet he was relegated to the back burner the whole time in favor of unrealistically whiny, self-pitying losers. In my opinion, he was the only one in the movie that actually had a right to pity himself, as his situation was the only one that was unfortunately out of his control.

    • Jerry

      I am a GenX-er. I can’t say that Reality Bites was the defining movie of my generation. But it did capture a few things:

      1. We were the first generation where having a university/college degree didn’t guarantee you a golden ticket in life.

      3. The generation that raised us didn’t truly understand the above thought. They were raised to believe, you get an education, and you work hard … everything will work out fine.

      3. We saw the generations before us believe that the American Dream would guarantee happiness. But what we saw from them was a miserable existence.

      4. Like any generation, part of defining ourselves, was to not be like our parents. So they valued/believed in the American Dream … we would try to find meaning or purpose in life through something else.

      4. The GenX-ers were intellectuals. We thought more … this is not to insult other generations or say that there aren’t intellectuals from other generations, but in general there were an overall movement to experiment in new things.

      This might be attributed from the privilege we were given by our parents, giving us the freedom to an education.

      5. Marketing vehicles (telling us what to wear, what to listen to, WHAT TO LIKE, etc.) were not as powerful as they are today. Thus, it was OK to non-conform … there wasn’t as much pressure to be like everyone else.

      6. In general, GenX-ers are cynical about the world. But don’t be fooled … underneath is hopeful optimism … there’s a belief that things can be better … and we want to help make that happen. In fact I would say that GenX-ers are quite selfless compared to other generations.

      Anyway, these are just some thoughts that I have … I hope you enjoy … and I would love to read your opinions!

      Oh, one more thing … while I appreciate the honesty of the writers admitting that they are from Generation Y, wouldn’t it have been better for it to be reviewed by someone who was from the generation being questioned? While I appreciate the reviewers enthusiasms with cinema and pop culture, its hard to accept their opinions about Reality Bites being a defining movie for Generation X when they weren’t there living it.

      • This Kids, Pay Attention to ^

        ^ Yes.

      • captain obvious

        There wasnt alot of hope for a Gen X’er coming out of highschool/college. This movie caught that moment in time quite well. Yes Troy was a douche freeloader, but that was all he saw the world could offer him and there were alot more Troy characters around than there were Ben Stillers.

      • Jill

        Having a university/college degree doesn’t guarantee you can count either, apparently.

      • Jerry

        @Jill – so true! … sorry about that … it was late when I wrote this … and it’s hard to edit long comments on this platform. That being said, any constructive comments on these ideas?

      • Jemienah

        well put I too am from that generation and I agree that I don’t think the movie would define us but still good also every point you hit on was dead on

    • Sam

      In a way, this kind of commentary is typical of the Gen Y generation, which is just Gen X minus the idealism; still trying to sound annoyingly clever, still failing when it counts. I think sounding like an idiot when being a twentysomething is just normal for any generation.

      • ree

        lol – i would have to agree. and i am a gen y’er.

  • Meghan

    I’m in Generation Y and I saw Reality Bites about four years ago. I thought it was okay. I didn’t understand all the hype around it. I think that Fight Club is a much better movie about Generation X.

    • jeni

      I totally agree. I wish TPTB would realize that we want movies from our perspective, not movies that try to exploit our culture to tell a lame story.

    • DTO

      I am from Generation X and I agree that FIGHT CLUB is the better Generation X movie. I caught REALITY BITES on video a few months after it came out and was annoyed that that was what Hollywood thought of us. It also wasn’t until years later, 2001’s TRAINING DAY, that I could bring myself to like Ethan Hawke again, which is a shame because I shunned BEFORE SUNRISE when it came out and found out that movie was awesome years later.

      • s

        I still hate Ethan Hawke.

      • Di

        Before Sunset is even better. Check it out. And regardless of what Reality Bites says or doesn’t say to a specific generation it’s still my favorite movie to quote.

        “Don’t bogart that can. Man.”
        “Dominoes takes checks.”

        Plus the fact that Ben Stiller says maybe one complete sentence the entire movie. And every time I hear “My Sharona” I have to dance no matter where I am or who I’m with. And I agree with what someone said earlier… Sammy saying “I just want to be let back in the house” is one of the most heartbreaking things. Man I love this movie.

    • Mac

      Yes, Fight Club, with the only female character one who is bats**t crazy. Try again.

      • MattyB

        Marla’s not crazy. She’s the only one with even a slight grip on reality. She’s depressed and suicidal but is ultimately undone by the faith she puts in Jack/Tyler (the REAL crazy one). She’s actually the most stable character in the whole movie. She’s just getting beaten down by life and psycho boys.

  • Shana

    I think Reality Bites is less iconic of the generation and speaks more to the feeling that a lot of college students have in that post-graduation, pre-job phase of their lives. I was never moved by Reality Bites, but the show Rent really spoke to me when I was in college. Now I just wish they’d get a job and zip their coats. American Idiot on Broadway is another great example of this. I hated the show, but then I’m not a dissatisfied youth from the suburbs anymore.

    • betsybug

      “Now I just wish they’d get a job and zip their coats.”

      Oh, that made me laugh. I also agree with your point. I think that post-college time is tough, particularly the divide that comes between those who know (and these days, find) that post-college career quickly, and those who are unsure and mask it with whatever.

      This was also written in the post-recession of 1990-1992, after the greed-is-good 80s came to an end. Some folks were starving artists for the sake of “rebellion”, not because they lived for their art.

  • Jenny

    This is an aggravating and unnecessary review. Reality Bites is a fantastic movie. Sure, the characters have flaws. Surer still, they spoke to and represented people their own age (ish, I was in high school when the movie came out). I don’t really get how “Mrs. Robinson” expresses the angst the characters feel at the end of The Graduate, but that doesn’t invalidate the movie.

    • DTO

      I liked Cameron Crowe’s SINGLES better.

      • Minvike

        As a member of Gen-X, I agree 100%. SINGLES was way better than Reality Bites, and a more accurate depiction of Gen-X in general and grunge in particular.

      • RTW

        I’ll third that from another Gen-Xer. Reality Bites came out literally within 6 months of me graduating college – and while the movie did give a pretty accurate view of the world for an early 20-something in 1994, the thoughts and views had a very short shelf life (I think most of us were annoyed at these characters also). If you want a defining Gen-X film, I agree that SINGLES is much better.

      • Tricia S

        I was just going to say the same thing. Another Gen X’er here. I remember seeing Reality Bites when it came out & thinking what a horrible movie. Singles, I can still watch & I love it!

      • Tracy

        I agree I hated Reality BItes, it seemed very paint by numbers. Singles on the other hand better reflects the culture of Gen X.

  • tracy bluth

    I love Winona Ryder, but this was…just okay. My friends raved about it (we’re Generation Y as well) so when I saw it I was underwhelmed. Even with Ethan Hawke and Steve Zahn! Although The Dilemma looks dumb (I have no idea what she, Jennifer Conelly, and Ron Howard were thinking) but I’m really glad she’s getting work again. Loved her in Black Swan- her role may have been small, but she was haunting.

    • Stilllooking

      One word about Winona Ryder: Kleptomanic!


        One word about you. A-HOLE!

  • joblo

    “At the center of the film is Winona Ryder, an actress who more or less defined her generation” – Speaking as someone smack dab in the middle of her generation I have NO CLUE how you can say such a thing. Winona didn’t define my generation. A subset of it, sure, but no way you do a poll like that and she wins. Next.

    • keith

      Who would you off as an alternative? I’m not challenging you. I just find it an interesting topic. I read the GQ interview with her which called her the same thing, the actress of her generation. I sort of questioned it until I read the list of films in which she appeared. It is sort of strange though that she isn’t more recognized now. But at the time, I remember she was something of the deal. Dating rock stars and Johnny Depp. Period piece movies, oscar noms. And she had a very unique look and persona. Course, she never quite lived up to the hype, I’d argue.

    • Merry Bear

      Sorry, I have to disagree. Winona and I are the same age (turning 40), and if you ask any woman born btw 1970-72 they will say they identify with this character, and with the actress herself. It looked like we had potential, then when reality set in, things were pretty harsh. We did work in gas stations, at the Macy’s counter and in factories with college degrees; our parents, for the most part, didn’t have to, and neither did Gen Y. I waited tables when I graduated and worked as a journalist, too, to make ends meet. Our experiences were very different from Gen Y, for many reasons, and certainly different from the Boomers. For example, I think you will find very, very few Americans from our birth years in Hollywood, or politics for that matter, with the exception of Winona and Jennifer Connelly (Britain seems to be a different case). We seemed to have floundered by our parents’ definitions, and we don’t really seem to care.

      • Heather

        I was born in 70 and never identified with Winona. Never could stand her actually. Hated her in Heathers. Hated her in Beetlejuice.

        Imo, a great “gen x” movie is Pump Up The Volume. Where Slater appropriately says he’s part of the “why bother generation.” Which is a much better name than” gen x.”

        And being from “gen x” I feel I must point out that Generation X was a band, not a generation.

      • s

        Obviously people can have different taste. What’s being debated isn’t whether or not each person liked her but how a generation culturally received her. That made more sense in my head.


        This reply is actually for HEATHER—“Lick it up, baby, lick it up!”

    • tomm

      Winona is now a joke, and a has-been. She is in ‘Dilemma’ and not promoted.

      Now looks like a typical consumer driven “mom”.


        NO, you’re a JOKE! “Your bravado is embarrassing”

  • keith

    Yeah. You’re right. The two of you come off like a couple of snots. As a member of gen X, I loved the movie. Haven’t seen the movie in years, so maybe it is dated. I also grew up in Houston where there movie was films, so I admit to having an emotional attachment to the film. But I remember watching this movie with friends in college when it came out and thinking it captured something about us at the time. You have to also consider the context of the time. Wasn’t like we had a lot of options either.

    Oh, you guys suck. Not being sarcastic.

    • @keith

      As a fellow gen-Xer, I also loved the movie when it came out. Then I saw it about 5 months ago and realized what melodramatic, self-indulgent piece of history it comes across as now. It has it’s moments, but I think it would be borderline fascinating to see a “where are they now” sequel!

      • AR

        Hmmm…I saw the movie when it first came out and loved it as well (I was a freshman in college at the time). I haven’t rewatched it in a long time and your comment makes me wonder what I would think of it today. Dangit…now I’m gonna have to watch and find out!

      • Henny

        So after reading Rick’s comnmet I got interested to see what the Liberal and Conservative GHG plans where and this is what I found.LIBERALTARGET:Liberals have committed to a long-term greenhouse gas reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. (Page 48 of liberal platform)METHOD:-“A Liberal government will establish a cap-and-trade system – a mechanism that sets a ceiling on the total amount of permissible greenhouse gas emissions by large industrial facilities, and then auctions off emission permits to companies who can trade them amongst themselves to remain compliant under the law.”(Page 49 of liberal platform)Green Renovation Tax Credit means that you can qualify for a tax credit of up to $13,500 for renovations to green your home. (p.46)-Renewable Power Production Incentive (RPPI) (p.47)… investment of $1 billion in RPPI over the coming years will increase Canada’s renewable energy mix to 10 percent of our total electricity output by 2017-Oil sands development must become more sustainable as this major resource continues to con- tribute to Canada’s prosperity. Increase the rigour with which the federal government exercises its regulatory responsibilities relevant to oil sands development;(p47)CONSERVATIVETARGET:aligned our climate-change targets with those of the Obama Administration – our goal is a 17-percent reduction in domestic greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020;…..established the Clean Energy Dialogue between Canada and the United States, to enhance collaboration on reducing greenhouse gases and combating climate change; (page 41 of conservative platform)METHOD:-We will support economically viable clean energy projects that will assist regions and provinces in the replacement of fossil fuel with renewable fuel sources. (p.42)-ecoENERGY RETROFIT-HOMES PROGRAM ($5000)I am going into this election concerned about environmental policy and GHG targets. I am not so concerned about the targets as the Liberals have picked a Kyoto accord target and the Conservatives have published a US target. Either way it’s a target in the not so near future and a lot can change between now and then. So….they both have a target, Great. Next question how are we going to get from the here and now to that target. Conservatives method is to align with US on whatever they do, and offer subsidies to clean energy projects along with home retrofit programs. In my opinion, a little weak to say we will just follow the US, especially if any thought of GHG policy in the states has been scrapped till after elections and their economy pulls itself back together. In my mind, that pulls a conservative GHG policy off the table.Liberals plan is seemingly a lot more detailed with specifics. So I think they have a better method for achieving a target then the conservatives. The liberals differ as they are not waiting for Obama admin to put forward a GHG policy.I would like to make clear that you can have a cap & trade like liberals propose without it affecting the economy, just give all the permits away every year….free. So when I hear the argument that we will effectively kill our manufacturing economy at the start of a C&T program I have a little chuckle. Obviously it will do nothing for ghg reductions….(will it? i.e. signaling?), but it’s a start. Overall, a federal GHG policy is going to be messy when considering provincial vs. federal powers.

  • Liz C

    I was pretty much in the Gen X age range for this movie, and when it came out I remember discussing with friends that Leilana obviously picked the wrong guy.

  • Beachie841

    Interesting review. I saw the movie during it’s original release and HATED it! I guess I’m solidly in the target demographic – I graduated from college the year that this movie came out and had a lot in common with the characters. Something about the movie rang false to me, though. I felt like the movie was made by some baby-boomers who were alternately enthralled and envious of the young carefree Gen-X’er protagonists. Almost like a sociological study, but very biased and bitter.

    • keith

      Interesting. I can see that. I really liked the movie but am the first one to admit it’s not perfect.

    • jules

      Beachie,I totally agree…it felt like the writers were trying to throw in any pop-culture reference they could think of, like a “wink-wink-we’re one of you” type of deal. But it felt FORCED. And came off (to me, at least) as condescending and fake.

      • Ellipsian

        The writer was 25 when it was released, which means she was likely a few years younger when it was written. She grew up in the 70s in Houston, TX (the locale of the film) and is an official, card-carrying member of Gen X.

      • Ellipsian

        To be fair, though, the script went through an alleged seventy–that’s 70!–rewrites. Whew. I’m sure the corporate suits had their grubby little know-it-all fingerprints all over the final draft.

    • Brian

      Yeah, I have to say, I was working in a cinema that showed this at the time, and it was pretty unimpressive. It had an agenda, and, for lack of a better criticism, to lack any “authenticity.” Completely forgot that Zahn was in it, though.

  • hannah

    The thing is, Gen X did act the way they did in this film. We’d rather starve then get McJobs. We’d always pick Ethan over Ben b/c Ethan is “real”. The reason we had to steal money from our parents is b/c, unlike ur generation, our parents didn’t cater to us.

    • laura

      What a load of BS. The rise of Reganomics Yuppies and you say you weren’t catered to…keep dreaming.

    • keith

      huh? I think you missed the point of the film. Gen x was totally catered to. We were spoiled rotten. Which is partially why the characters in the film are so aimless and unmotivated and indulgent.

    • jules

      Speak for yourself, Hannah.

    • tomm

      But you Gen X’er sure do love to eat fast food!

  • Kelly

    That feeling of pretentious idealism DEFINES being in your 20s to anybody born post-Vietnam. It’s a great sketch of post-college idealism and ultimately hopelessness that many 20somethings experience. Sketch because it is obviously not without flaws–Ethan Hawke is the dreamboat ungettable cold prick that many persons pine for, but the older I get (24 now–still learning :D), the more appealing Ben Stiller’s stable, NICE guy character becomes. I find it extremely relatable and frustrating because often you just have to bite the bullet. I never imagined myself in the job I have now–but it’s probably one of the best things to ever happen to me. But at the same time, maybe you yearn for that moment in time when you really think you can conquer the world and beat the system. Just my opinion of course :D

  • Bedc01

    I am a gen X-er too, and I saw this movie when it originally came out, and I remember hating it, to me it represented a group of people my age who were very shallow and just tried to create a troubled environment just so they can relate to each other, just like we all do at some point when we are young, only difference is, some of us grew out of it, and others never did

    • Bedc01

      If anything, DAZED AND CONFUSED is a much better movie that spoke about youth, and defined us better… and yes, I know the movie takes place in the 70’s but the themes they dealt with on the movie were universal..

      • MsSuniDaze

        DAZED AND CONFUSED totally reminded me of High School. Ahh…good times.

    • theBigE

      I was 23 when Bites came out, just out of college. The movie made me hate Ethan Hawke. I took a less than great job just to survive after school, and I couldn’t imagine sponging so much off my folks or being unemployed. I think protagonists are supposed to be somewhat likable – Winona’s character was, but not Hawke. Was it wrong I wanted her ending up with Stiller? Stiller, Zahn, and Garafolo make the movie bearable.

      • Merry Bear

        For what it’s worth, I was 22 when it came out–right out of college, too. I always thought she should have run from Hawke’s character, too. Not necessarily end up with Stiller, but Hawke’s character was damaged beyond repair, and going to take her down a bad road with him. I always took comfort in knowing it wouldn’t have worked out with Hawke and he would have been a life lesson.


        Yours is a natural reaction. Troy was pretty unlikable.

  • nativenewvegan

    I’m pretty sure I’m of the generation of the author’s of this article and gawd do we sound obnoxious. Your article has all the self centered pretentiousness of the reality bites characters and none of the charm.

  • kdavis

    I had graduated from college a year or two before this movie came out, so I guess I’m somewhere in the audience this was targeted at. I remember thinking Leilani and Troy were insufferably annoying and self-centered and self-indulgent, that Ben Stiller wasn’t the bad guy that he was supposed to be portrayed as, and that Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn were utterly charming and stole the movie. My husband and I still quote this movie at each other: “Puh-Flag! I’m beginning to like the sound of that!”

    • Ellipsian

      My friends and I are always dropping the “Puh-Flag!” line! (I am also dorky enough that when I got my iPad and had to name it in iTunes, I called it, “Welcome to the Max iPad” as an homage to another quote in the movie. …yep. Dork.)

  • Chaz Winterbottom

    I was eighteen when Reality Bites came out and didn’t care for it at time. I thought it was trying too hard to be “real” and instead came across as self important and corny. Oddly enough after watching the film my friends and I headed over to the local wannabe beatnik coffee shop that we ironically liked and sat around all night making sarcastic remarks about the film we just saw.

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