I don’t usually do movie reviews on here, but last night I watched a movie called Reality Bites that resonated so strongly with me that I feel I must share it. I actually saw the movie for the first time probably a year or two ago, but I came across it again recently & was disappointed to find that it is no longer on instant on Netflix. However, I also stumbled across a copy of the DVD at Wal-Mart this past weekend for only $5, so naturally I jumped on it. If you’re not familiar with the film, it was directed by Ben Stiller & stars Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, & Stiller himself. Though it is now 20 years old (I KNOW, HOW THE HELL IS 1994 20 YEARS AGO?!!!), I find the film is just as relevant now as it was the day it was released.
Yes, it’s amazing how much the world has changed just since 1994. Pay-phones are now obsolete & have been replaced with cell phones that are basically miniature computers. We’ve also gone from bulky VHS tapes to DVDs & Blu-ray, while clothing & hair styles have of course changed tremendously as well. And yet the core issues that the characters face are the exact same issues that 20-somethings are facing today. It’s funny how much the world changes & yet how much it stays the same. If you’re a 20-something & you haven’t seen this movie, you really must add it to your list because this film is basically the story of our generation: college graduates trying to enter the workforce in a crappy economy & to navigate the real world with all the treachery, disappointment, excitement, fear, & joy that entails. I also appreciate that the film asserts that friendship really is the best foundation for romance & that a person’s career is only as satisfying as the rest of his or her life outside of work. To me this is a film in which the characters & the lessons they learn about life, & in turn can teach us, are more important than the plot. I for one find such films are usually the best. Additionally, there are a lot of really touching lines. In the spirit of such, I’m going to share some of my favorite quotes from the movie. Some are full of intense meaning while others are strictly humorous. Indeed, reality bites. But it isn’t all bad.
- Troy answering the phone: “Hello, you’ve reached the winter of our discontent.”
- Troy: “I am not under any orders to make the world a better place.”
- Lelaina: “All right, fine. You wanna be in a band? Go ahead. Play every night. Play three times a night! Don’t just dick around the same coffee house for five years. Don’t dick around with her or with me. I mean, try at something for once in your life. Do something about it, but you know what? You better do it now, & you better do it fast, because the world doesn’t owe you any favors.”
- Vickie: “He’s weird, he’s strange, he’s sloppy, he’s a total nightmare for women. I can’t believe I haven’t slept with him yet.”
- Lelaina: “I’d like to somehow make a difference in people’s lives.”
Troy: “And I . . . I would like to buy them all a Coke.”
Lelaina: “And you wonder why we never got involved?”
- Troy on the answering machine: “At the beep, please leave your name, number, & a brief justification for the ontological necessity of modern man’s existential dilemma, & we’ll get back to you.”
- Troy upon seeing Lelaina in what is supposed to be a stylish white dress: “You look like a doily.”
- Lelaina: “I just don’t understand why things just can’t go back to normal at the end of the half hour like on the Brady Bunch or something.”
Troy: “Well, ’cause Mr. Brady died of AIDS. Things don’t turn out like that.”
- Troy: “You can’t navigate me. I may do mean things, & I may hurt you, & I may run away without your permission, & you may hate me forever, & I know that scares the living shit outta you ’cause you know I’m the only real thing you got.”
- Lelaina: “I was really going to be somebody by the time I was 23.”
Troy: “Honey, all you have to be by the time you’re 23 is yourself.”
Lelaina: “I don’t know who that is anymore.”
Troy: “I do. And we all love her.”
- Troy: “There’s no point to any of this. It’s all just a random lottery of meaningless tragedy & a series of near escapes. So I take pleasure in the details. You know . . . a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, those are good; the sky about ten minutes before it starts to rain; the moment where your laughter become a cackle . . . And I, I sit back & I smoke my Camel Straights & I ride my own melt.”
This is a film that reminds us that life isn’t easy & we all have to make compromises sometimes. We all become hypocrites at one point or another, we all make mistakes, & we all “sell out” on some dreams to accomplish others. As the characters are forced to face in the film, making our dreams a reality is sometimes much harder than we anticipated (partially due to a bad economy), but there is no exact timeline we have to follow in life either. And perhaps the most important thing we can take away from this film (aside from some great laughs) is that making your dreams a reality, no matter how grand they are, is worth very little without taking pleasure in the small, every-day joys of life & without a few good friends to share them with.