Reality Bites

Director: Ben Stiller
Screenwriters: Helen Childress

Institute History


A feature-film directorial debut for Ben Stiller, creator and host of TV's critically acclaimed "The Ben Stiller Show," Reality Bites is the twentysomething film we've all been waiting for. Now that we're familiar with the issues—the bitter aftertaste of the greedy, hypocritical eighties, boredom, lack of work, lack of sex, and overall nihilism—it's time for a film that is not only able to laugh at itself, but also comes up with some pretty positive solutions.

It's graduation day for college valedictorian Lelaina Pierce (Winona Ryder), and she's lucky enough to have a decent job working for a local TV station. To keep herself sane, and in hopes that someone may notice that a college graduate is capable of more than serving coffee. Lelaina is making a video about her circle of friends. Along the way, she has to choose whether to give her heart to Michael, a charming, but materialistic, video executive (Ben Stiller) or her grungy, but too cool, friend Troy (Ethan Hawke). When Michael declares his love for Lelaina, the pressure is on Troy, does he drop his mask of indifference and risk rejection, or play it safe and risk losing the love of his life? Capitalizing on the characters and plot lines of his TV show, Ben Stiller gets the comedy just right. A terrific script by Helen Childress is the blueprint for both Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder to give their best performances to date. Cameo appearances by MTV's Karen "Duff" Duffy and grunge icons Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum and Evan Dando of the Lemonheads add to the fun.

Reality Bites is the first film about young adults of the nineties that has the courage to notice that even though it seems like a moral wasteland out there, there are still some kids who are going to make it through. Not only that, they just might pull those of us who feel like we're drowning out of the muck.

Friday Jan 28 1:00 pm
Egyptian Theartre

Saturday Jan 29 9:30 am
Park City Library Center


— Catherine Schulman

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]