I was just the right age to be enchanted by this movie when it came out. I was barely into high school and thought, "Oh, that's what life will be like after college!" ... I also felt that way about the music in the film: that even though I thought the concepts were somewhat simplistic and the lyrics mostly seemed forced, I would someday find it deep and relevant. Alas, as I reach the age of the characters in the film, I realize that this has not occurred.
The majority of the songs on this album, for me anyway, blend into the similar-sounding oevres of many early-90's bands. The lyrics are bland, the musicianship mediocre, and the sole redeeming value of the songs is their polemical approach to emotion; the world in these songs is full of either ice-cream-cone-sweet (and equally drippy) cliches of happiness and love, or vague, undefined rants against feeling much of anything at all except anger. There are, however, a few reasons why I still haven't sold this one for lunch money. The soundtrack does have a few gems, and especially taken alongside the other songs on the CD they really stand out. One is U2's sentimental yet poetic "All I Want Is You". I would recommend purchasing the far superior album on which this track appears, however, instead of sticking yourself with this soundtrack for the sake of that song alone. "Stay" is another very well-written track, though not as good a song as its endless radio play at the time suggested. If its past overplay doesn't give you nausea to this day when you hear the song, it is a simplistic yet evocative love song in the style of the songs of Jewel. Finally, the Juliana Hatfield song and the Ethan Hawke song are worth having for their humor factor; Hatfield's baby-doll voice cursing in her song is just too cute, and Hawke's folksy tune is a strange blend of Nirvana-esque lyrics and Phil Ochs-like guitar playing.
If you have't heard of the lesser-known bands on this CD, there's a reason.