What it’s about: Overeducated, underemployed twentysomethings trying to get a grip on their work and romantic lives in the ’90s.

Who’s in it: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn. There’s also a cameo by David Spade).

When it came out: 1994 (the same year as Friends, natch)

How come you haven’t heard of it (or just seen it): You must have heard of it. Reality Bites and Heathers were to the latter part of Gen X what The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink were to our older siblings.

Why you need to watch it immediately:

  • If you’re in your twenties, you need to watch it so you understand why your older friends and family members roll their eyes when you complain about how hard it is to find a meaningful job after finishing university. Been there, done that, here’s the movie about it.
  • To see original grunge (or pre-hipster) archetypes in action. The film’s fashions actually hold up pretty well.
  • It was Ben Stiller’s directorial debut and he’s spot-on as the arrogant, corporate-focused Michael, a guy who knows what he wants and gets it. It’s a reminder that he can do more serious roles than his slapstick niche would have you believe.
  • Winona Ryder was the ’90s “It” girl for a reason, you guys. She is luminescent as a soul-searching documentarian who gives up the good catch only to have her heart broken.
  • Ethan Hawke is outstanding playing unfocused slacker Troy, a part many agree is his breakout role. Now he’s headlining movies like crazy, such as this week’s Getaway. 
  • Janeane Garafolo and Steve Zahn are hilarious as the respective underachieving Gap employee and closeted gay best friends.
  • The soundtrack! It’s a veritable who’s who of ’90s alternative bands and songs, including the now-classic anthem “Stay (I Missed You)” by Lisa Loeb.

IreneIrene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at and tweets @irene_karras.

Read more of Irene’s posts.


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