Reality Bites | 1994
Lelaina Pierce (Winona Ryder) has to choose between yuppie Michael Grates (Ben Stiller) and slacker Troy Dyer (Ethan Hawke) in Stiller’s directorial début, set in Houston, Texas, though studio filming and some interiors were filmed in Los Angeles.
After being fired from her job at the TV studio, Lelaina is comforted by Troy alongside the metallic cylinders of Wortham Fountain in Tranquility Park, on Rusk Street at Walker Street, east of Smith Street in downtown Houston. The park opened in 1979, on the tenth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The mounds and depressions throughout the park are meant to represent the lunar surface, and the fountain is designed to resemble rocket boosters.
The coffee shop, where Lelaina and her friend (Janeane Garofalo) have a heart to heart, though, is in LA. it was Johnie’s Broiler in Downey, south LA. The classic Fifties restaurant, seen also in Michael Mann’s Heat, David Fincher’s The Game, Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, One Hour Photo and Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It, closed down and was largely – and illegally – demolished. Fortunately, following an outcry, it has been rebuilt as Bob’s Big Boy Broiler, 7447 Firestone Boulevard.