Tonight at Summerscreen: Reality Bites

by |
07/08/2009 10:31 AM |

reality_bites3.jpgSummerscreen, the L’s outdoor film series, returns to McCarren Park (the ball fields across from Turkey’s Nest, this year) for six consecutive Wednesdays of free screenings at dusk. Come tonight at 6pm for happy hour and food from local vendors, at sets at 6:30 from Kittens Ablaze and 7:30 (not 6:30 as previously announced) from Wild Yaks. Let’s do this? Let’s do this.

After the jump, some program notes on tonight’s film, Reality Bites. (Pictured. Jesus, look how young.)

Reality Bites (Ben Stiller, 1994)

Fifteen years ago, this cinematic trend piece — Generation X: Flannel! Mope-Rock! Ethan Hawke’s goatee! — was found, by certain adults, to be a smug zeitgeist jamboree: “callow and superficial behavior by kids who do not inspire us to wish we knew them better”, thumb-downed Roger Ebert. But, with Lisa Loeb and Gap denim faded into fads and tonight’s audience finally actually older than the characters — crap, we’re now older than the characters in Reality Bites — the film now seems almost unbearably poignant. From its opening scene, with recent grads celebrating their entry into the real world by singing a Schoolhouse Rock song, Reality Bites is prescient in its understanding of twentysomethings as imposters in the realm of adulthood, with nothing but a common language of pop-culture quotations to guide them. In their stumbling disbelief at their own adulthood (“I just don’t understand why things just can’t go back to normal at the end of the half hour like on The Brady Bunch”), these slackers predict everything from mumblecore to bromance, while the inside-joking dialogue (“Well, ‘cause Mr. Brady died of AIDS”) dissects the slang-slinging eventually to be used as social and comic crutches on everything from I Love the 80s to I Love the 90s to I Love Last Week (or whatever it’s called). It’s chilling how fervently Winona Ryder’s character cares about self-documentary footage that, these days, would go up on YouTube three minutes at a time.