July 08, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Despite the hype, the Generation X crowd (or twentysomethings or whatever label they’re objecting to this week) avoided Ben Stiller’s romantic comedy Reality Bites at the box office, proving that audiences don’t always bite even if reality does. It’s worth a look on video, but only if you keep your expectations low. Biggest problem? Mod, independent Lelaina (Winona Ryder) basically defines her life in guy terms: There’s Cute Rich Empty Guy (Ben Stiller as a vacuous TV exec) and Cute Hostile Deep Guy (Ethan Hawke as Ryder’s rebel roommate). They’re both almost literally cartoons — Veronica and Betty with a sex change. Ryder and costar Janeane Garofalo (in the Jughead role), though, give Bites a reality it needs. B-

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