I love this movie because I saw it when it came out in 1994, 598 times in college, about twice after college, and at least once since having Sweet Pea. Even though I know just about every line by heart, it meant something different to me every time I watched it.
Regarding the prolific Reality Bites viewing that went on during my college days: That was largely a function of it being one of the few movies my roommate and I owned. We watched it on our four head VCR because when we were at Circuit City shopping for this momentous joint purchase, a salesman with a sexy accent like Cesar Milan said “Two beautiful ladies like you need a four head VCR, not a two-head VCR” and we were sold.
The first time I watched Reality Bites, in high school, I didn’t really see what was so bad about working at The Gap after college. Wouldn’t you get a discount on the clothes? I thought it was kind of sad that our heroine doesn’t get the job with the publishing house but then again, how did she graduate college without being able to state the definition of irony, anyway? My AP English exam was less tricky than that. And I didn’t quite understand what was so funny and ridiculous about Winona Ryder trying to Ben Stiller her with the statement “I’m a non-practicing virgin.” I might not have even picked up in the fact that Ethan Hawke despised everything about Ben Stiller and what he represented. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know that Ben Stiller represented anything at all.
The next few hundred times I watched this movie, I felt bad for Janean Garafolo when her best friend completely insults her job. I got why Winona Ryder had mixed feelings about driving her father’s BMW, even if it was an older model. I thought the idea of charging strangers’ gas on your father’s gas card in exchange for cash was positively genius. I didn’t get why Janean Garafolo was being such a drama queen about the HIV test and the possibility of being like the AIDS character on a Melrose Place episode… if she was so worried about it, maybe she shouldn’t have had sex with so many guys. And more importantly where did she meet all those guys, anyway?
And the last few dozen times I’ve watched it? I realized this movie is about figuring out what you want to be when you grow up. What kind of job do you want? What do you value? Who are your real friends and how do your friends define you? How much help are you willing to accept and does taking a handout or two from your parents keep you from growing up? Are you a prostitute if you take a job that will pay the bills but leaves your soul empty? Or are you just doing what adults do? And if you don’t take responsibility are you a loser or a child? Or does that make a you an authentic person? Can you be true to yourself and make it in the world on your own? And life is so confusing, is it really so ridiculous to call a psychic when it gets too overwhelming?
So there’s that. And also the fact that watching this movie always reminds me that there was a time when my college roommate/BFF and I used to sit around and talk, in vivid detail, about the way our lives were going to be, down to the names of our children, and exactly what types of guys our husbands would be. It reminds me of how we made a pact that if we weren’t married by the time we were 30, we would live with each other forever. Which made complete sense because it was both a testament to how much we enjoyed living together (except when she ate all the chunks out of the cookie dough ice cream) and to our cool ignorance of the speed with which time passes. Becoming thirty (an entire thirty!) years old- the idea was almost laughable, our contract pretty much a joke. Though it was less funny when I was 29 and had not yet met Dan.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
This post was brought to you by the Finish The Sentence Friday link up.