Reality Bites Turns 20 Today, Still Isn't Very Good
3. The Blank Generation
Nice try, assholes. 7-11 sold all its Houston stores in 1988.
Stiller conspicuously avoided any overt mention of "Generation X" in the film. Maybe he was trying to avoid confusing people who'd read Douglas Coupland's book and couldn't remember anything about Brady Bunch references, or maybe it was just because the entire planet was sick of the expression by 1994.
But for all the vanilla anti-establishment posturing and the way Stiller's character (his name is "Grates," get it?) is vilified for his sell-out job working for Big Media, the characters are depressingly apathetic. Half of their functional dialogue is repeating commercial jingles and pining for the easily palatable resolutions of 30-minute sitcoms (and Melrose Place), which is exactly the kind of shallow, media-saturated existence we were accused of leading at the time.
2. Lelaina Is Terrible at Everything
Filming your friends while they rationalize indirectly giving money to Operation Rescue is fine and good, but shooting sloppy handheld stoner footage and calling it a "documentary" would make Erroll Morris spin in his grave, if he was dead. She stormed out of the In Your Face TV premiere, but she should have at least thanked Michael for making her meandering magnum opus watchable.
And for everyone describing this as a quintessential "Houston movie," how do you like the way it depicts U of H's valedictorian as not only incapable of defining "irony," but spending hundreds of dollars on a psychic hotline? She won't work at the Gap, for Christ's sake, but she'll beg her parents for money and take their (used) BMW as a graduation present.
And I hope she doesn't plan on listing Good Morning, Grant! on her resume:
1. The Soundtrack
Where Cameron Crowe got Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, and the Replacements (among others), Danny Boyle got Iggy Pop, Blur, and Pulp, and Baz Luhrmann used Radiohead, Garbage, and the Butthole Surfers, Ben Stiller went a different direction. The RB soundtrack features a couple decent cuts (Dinosaur Jr.'s "Turnip Farm," "Locked Out" by Crowded House), and then two tracks from 20 years earlier ("My Sharona," "Tempted"), a Peter fucking Frampton cover ("Baby, I Love Your Way"), and Lenny Kravitz.
Oh, and this song, which rips off David Bowie's "Young Americans" so effectively it fools me into thinking it *is* the Bowie song at the beginning. Then I realize it's goddamned World Party and I'm annoyed for the rest of the day: