Thursday, March 16, 2017

Directorial Debut: Ben Stiller's REALITY BITES

Welcome to another installment of DIRECTORIAL DEBUT, where we look at some of the best, most interesting and iconic directors and the films that started their careers. This week we take a look at the 1994 debut of Ben Stiller...REALTY BITES

There are just some movies that define a generation and this film is one of them because of the issues it covered, for example the AIDS Crisis. Reality Bites is about a group of college graduates who are trying to find jobs and love all at the same time. Lelaina Pierce, played by the adorable Winona Ryder, starts making a documentary of her and her friends and their lives out of college. She meets producer Michael, played by Ben Stiller, who wants the documentary for his network.

A love triangle forms between Lelaina, Michael and her roommate, Troy (Ethan Hawke). The concept of the love triangle in film has been done to death; but it works for this film. As I watched it, I really wanted Lelaina to end up with Troy. However, that doesn't mean I didn't like Ben Stiller's character, Michael. You'll have to watch the film to see who she ends up with.

Ben Stiller has been involved in the film industry long before his directorial debut. He comes from showbiz parents, Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld, Everybody Love Raymond) and Anne Meara (Rhoda).  You can see where he gets his comedic talent from. Stiller had made some films and was a cast member on Saturday Night Live before directing Reality Bites.

As with most people, I am more familiar with him as an actor. Yet, I love the films he has directed including this film and The Cable Guy. Stiller was fantastic in 1998's There's Something About Mary. He's great at acting and directing, though not everything he does is critically accepted, as seen with his most recent film that he wrote and directed, Zoolander 2, which was released last year.

Reality Bites did not perform that well at the box office and received mixed reviews. It received a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert wasn't too excited about it according to his review. He thought the performances were adequate, but there were too many cliches. In her review for the New York Times, Caryn James wrote, "Like the generation it presents so appealingly, it doesn't see any point in getting bent out of shape and overambitious. But it knows how to hang out and have a good time."

This film harbors a great cast and portrays pertinent social issues throughout. It is perfect for date night or a night in with the girls.

Lisa's Score: 8.5/10

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