(1994)

Critic Reviews

67

Metascore

Based on 26 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
Ryder, good as she was in The Age of Innocence, gives her first true star performance here. Beneath her crisp, postfeminist manner, Lelaina is bristling with confusion, and Ryder lets you read every crosscurrent of temptation and anxiety, the way her tentative search for love slowly grows into a restless hunger. Yearning, hilarious, lost within their precocious self-awareness, these slackers have soul.
90
It takes a spectacular cast to pull off this kind of meandering romantic comedy, and Reality Bites couldn't have done better.
78
It's Stiller's knowledgeable use of these smaller touches that (along with the excellent cast -- it's great to see Winona relinquishing period gowns and back where she can do some real damage) pushes the film along a solid, fresh line and toward its admittedly Hollywood conclusion. Stiller and company imbue their film with an honest, sarcastic wit that's all too familiar: apparently, somebody's been filming our lives. Does this mean we'll all be getting royalties?
75
By spinning something fresh out of something familiar, Reality Bites scores the first comedy knockout of the new year. It also brings out the vibrant best in Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke as friends who resist being lovers, makes a star of Janeane Garofalo as their tart-tongued buddy and puts Ben Stiller on the map as a director.
60
A surprisingly sweet romantic comedy debut from Ben Stiller.
50
The performances are all just fine; I wish they'd been at the service of another movie.
50
In fact, it's often genuinely funny--but it's still an establishment picture pretending it's not.
40
Time Out
There's probably a moderate little romantic comedy crying to get out here, but the film's vain striving for casual hip proves suffocatingly obtrusive.
30
If you care whom she winds up with or why, you probably caught more of the TV references than I did.
20
Reality Bites embodied seemingly every odious post-Nirvana media trend. The title alone was laughably faux-hip, and the movie's portrait of slackerdom—limply enacted by Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Steve Zahn, and Janeane Garofalo—was both broad and shallow...No one acknowledges the obvious—that a heinous idea got even worse when Stiller signed on to direct.

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