By Owen Gleiberman
March 04, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

REALITY BITES (PG-13) The first Generation X movie to view its characters from the inside out, not just as media-age confections but as intricate human beings. Directed by Ben Stiller, from a script by 24-year-old Helen Childress, this sly and tenderly funny romantic comedy centers around a young TV production assistant (Winona Ryder) who is torn between two men: her best friend (Ethan Hawke), a loquacious, proudly unemployed grunge-rock musician; and an earnest music-video executive (Stiller). In Reality Bites, the central economic fact underlying Generation X-the dead-end job market-has romantic and spiritual implications as well. If the characters keep postponing adulthood, that’s largely because, in the down-sized, no-illusions ’90s, adulthood doesn’t seem worth rushing into. Yet the result is an eerie fraternalism, in which everyone seems to be brothers and sisters, members of an eternal Brady Bunch. A ( 210/ 211, Feb. 18/25) -OG