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. Written by
Rick Gregory <email@example.com>
Although I technically fall into the skipped-over demographic that lies between Generation X-- the target audience for this film-- and the Dawson's Creek trolls, I find myself having a strange affinity for "Reality Bites."
By far its greatest attraction, at least for someone like me, is its unabashed cynicism, which somehow manages to avoid becoming tiresome, even as the plot drags on and on and on toward oblivion. "Reality Bites" certainly does mean well, even if it intent is somewhat lost in the execution.
Unfortunately, this movie could not be any more overwrought, and it ultimately "angsts" itself into a very deep hole. Particularly frustrating is Ethan Hawke's character, a pseudo-philosopher who revels in his own delusions of nobility, when, in fact, he'd be a helluva lot better off just getting up off of his bum and trying to do something meaningful, instead of just moping around making pithy little comments that add up to exactly _jack_.
And Winona Ryder's character, although purportedly the film's protagonist, is just too whiney! It's very difficult for even the most jaded viewer to develop sympathy for her struggle to "find herself" or whatever it is she's trying to do.
Janeane Garofalo manages to save the film, though. Just the idea of someone like Janeane attempting to work at the Gap... it carries the movie through its many self-absorbed flaws.
But, for all of its shortcomings, "Reality Bites" has somehow managed to DEFINE a large segment of a generation-- how it holds up over time will be an interesting test of its worth. Still, it's difficult to imagine that Ethan's trite little musings, however "deep" they were intended to sound, will impress people even five years from now.
Rating: 7 out of 10, which seems inflated, even to me. But I've given out lots of 5s and 6s (my voting has a nice bell-curve pattern...), and "Reality Bites," at the very least, attempts to say something more than the vast majority of films, so I must give it some credit. And the performances, although it would be a stretch to say that ANY members of this cast were challenged by their roles here, are impressive. Some great scenes and one-liners, as well. Like 50 eggs, "Reality Bites" will go down more smoothly if broken down into smaller viewings, so you don't choke on all of the angst at once.
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