Saturday, January 31, 2009


Reality Bites explored the lives of four generation-x college graduates looking for work and love in Houston, Texas. The main character (played by Winona Ryder) is an aspiring film-maker who documents their lives, hoping to make a film from the footage. The film was released in early 1994, when i was 25 years old.

I'm simply not sure whether I am remembering this correctly or not, so perhaps my fellow gen-xers can help me out. I remember watching this movie and thinking OH MY GOD, SOMEBODY FINALLY GETS ME! THIS IS MY LIFE! THIS IS SO GREAT! ETHAN HAWKE IS SO AMAZING AND DISTANT AND COOL AND MISUNDERSTOOD, I WANT TO DATE SOMEONE JUST LIKE HIM! WINONA RYDER IS SO BORED AND SMART AND SARCASTIC AND UNDERVALUED - I'M SURE I'M JUST LIKE HER! I'm so GLAD they got back together at the end! That's JUST how it works out in REAL LIFE, when the boy FINALLY realizes he screwed up, and he comes back changed, loving and PERFECT and after that they stay together FOREVER!

I didn't watch it again for years, but I carried around this memory of a movie that had encapsulated my life at that time MOST perfectly. I'd refer to it from time to time fondly, reminiscing about the plot as though I was reminiscing about my own memories.

Last night I watched this film again, for the first time in fifteen years (in two weeks, it will be the fifteenth anniversary of its release).

OH MY FREAKING GOD. The SHALLOWNESS of the characters! The INSIPIDNESS of their lives! The TRANSPARENCE of Ethan Hawke's ridiculous detached facade! The HORROR of Winona Ryder's acting! The TRITENESS and PREDICTABILITY and CERTAINTY OF RELATIONSHIP DOOM of the final reunion love scene!

The only saving grace was Janeane Garofalo. Her character was at least SOMEWHAT three-dimensional, and she was, as always, brilliant. Why didn't I want to be HER??

I'm not certain what upsets me more.. the fact that I was so FREAKING naive at 25 (was that SERIOUSLY my life???) .. or the fact that I'm so UNREMITTINGLY cynical at 40.


Jennie said...

I am both excited and scared to watch this movie again. I remember having a similar reaction - Ben Stiller as the rich, money hungry idiot, all the 20-somethings running around being cool and "so like ME!"
Maybe I'll treat myself to a 90s Slacker movie night - Reality Bites, Threesome, Before Sunrise, Natural Born Killers...

Anonymous said...

I was forty fourteen years ago. I remember the time vaguely but not with the panic of my wife who ultimately decided not to have children.

Being a male, I have found that the biological wall occured when I was fifty. I bent to tie my shoe, I seem to recall on my birthday, and could not get back up. It gets worse apparently and the birthday cards you get on your fiftieth are invariably cruel.

I hate silly movies. Time really does fly as you get older and I dont like to waste it.

Anonymous said...

I LIVED for this movie when I was in college. I thought it changed my life. It was epic and inspiring and amazing. Perfection.

I even paid like $45 for a VHS version of it. I haven't watched it in probably about 10 years... and now I'm scared to.

I want to hold on to what I thought it was.


PS: Nutra Sweet causes you to grow a third eye. (best line ever)