The title says it all as far as our principle characters are concerned. They are coming of age ina world so inimical to them (thank you, Baby Boomers) that their survival response is cynicismand disengagement. The leads are Winona Ryder as a would-be filmmaker in a humiliating job,Ethan Hawke as the slacker who can’t express his true feelings for Ryder, and Ben Stiller as thecareer guy who also courts Ryder. Also here are friends Janeane Garofalo and Steven Zahn asequally c…nical friends.
Though witty and in many ways an accurate take on a generation’s experience, thedirectionless lives of the characters doesn’t lead to a compelling dramatic arc, and the film israther too self-consciously trying to capture the X-ers’ zeitgeist, and thus is perhaps a bit morethesis than film, telling rather than showing.
The sound is 5.1. It is certainly clean, clear and free of hiss or buzz. It is not, however, aparticularly dynamic track. Not much is done from the point of view of surround possibilities,and even the music sounds a bit wan, needing more bass, volume and richness.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is very sharp, and the print is perfectly clean.There is virtually no grain, and no visible edge enhancement. The colours are naturalistic, andfit the rather gloomy, hopeless vision of the characters (this is still a comedy, though, and thecontrasts become stronger when called for, as with John Mahoney’s gruesome morning talkshow).
Ben Stiller and writer Helen Childress do the commentary, and their conversation is largelyin the form of Stiller interviewing Childress. “Reality Bites: Retrospective” is a 30-minutefeature, with all the principle cast and filmmakers reflecting on the experience. Singer Lisa Loebdoes the same in a brief featurette about her song “Stay,” and the video for the song is alsoincluded. There are 7 deleted scenes, each with an on-camera intro by Stiller and Childress.Finally, there’s the theatrical trailer, along with some ads for 80s TV shows and a couple of othernew DVD releases. The menu’s main screen and intro are animated and scored.
An interesting document, coming relatively early in these performers’ careers, even if themovie itself isn’t entirely successful.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with On-Screen Introductions by Ben Stiller and Helen Childress
- “Reality Bites: Restrospective”
- Lisa Loeb Interview
- “Stay” Video by Lisa Loeb
- Theatrical Trailer