A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film features 20-something recent college graduates who drink, smoke, and sleep around. There are few consequences for their behavior, save for a very mild subplot in which one of the characters takes an AIDS test (she tests negative). However, the characters generally mean well, and parents who don't object to depictions of sex and drug/alcohol use may find their behavior towards each other acceptable.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
REALITY BITES opens with a speech in which college valedictorian and fledgling documentarian Lelaina (Winona Ryder) expresses her general dissatisfaction with the world she's about to take on. That vague angst is the most consistent plot thread running through the film as Lelaina and her three buddies Vickie (Janeane Garofalo), Sammy (Steve Zahn), and Troy (Ethan Hawke) labor at worthless jobs, play drinking games, cavort for Lelaina's documentary cameras, and look for love. Lelaina and Troy seem meant for each other, but when she (literally) bumps into an older, slicker television executive (Ben Stiller), a predictable love triangle ensues.
Is it any good?
Overall, the movie is not without charm or laughs, and although the ending is supposed to be happy, it is rather shallow. Anyone over 25 will find the main characters rather insufferable, while those under 25 might find it dated.
And boy, oh boy do the characters who inhabit Reality Bites love to talk. They talk about their love lives, their search for meaningful work, their favorite TV shows. They talk about their lame parents, their boring jobs, their slacker friends. It's not that all the talk isn't occasionally amusing; on the contrary, the dialogue is smart and bubblegum-culture-savvy enough to provoke chuckles amongst Gen X parents. It's just that the characters take themselves so incredibly seriously, and never shut up.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: February 18, 1994
- On DVD or streaming: July 21, 1998
- Cast: Ben Stiller, Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder
- Director: Ben Stiller
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language, drug content and sensuality
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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