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Pleasantville (1998)

October. 23,1998
| Fantasy Drama Comedy

Geeky teenager David and his popular twin sister, Jennifer, get sucked into the black-and-white world of a 1950s TV sitcom called "Pleasantville," and find a world where everything is peachy keen all the time. But when Jennifer's modern attitude disrupts Pleasantville's peaceful but boring routine, she literally brings color into its life.


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I guess that traditional values were horrible?People just 'thought' they were happy?That self-gratification, pleasure, infidelity, sex, sleeping around with multiple people and kids losing their virginity, and not waiting, is what makes people happy?Only neat thing was addressing the 'colored' people problem of the past. Neat how they did that. Although they couldn't resist making the white kids seem real horrible.All in all, I think this whole thing was just a bash on traditional values. Values my grandparents, by the way, respected and look back on fondly.Guess the smutty world we live in now is so much better. Thanks for teaching me this Hollywood.I'll let my wife know she's not really happy being a stay-at-home mom and that really she should be looking to branch out and have an affair to really feel alive.

Kelan Patel

It is 1998, American suburban teens Jennifer (Witherspoon) enjoys her time with those of the opposite sex and is in need of guidance, and her brother David (Maguire) finds comfort in the of 50's soap show "Pleasantville" to simpler times in which dinner is always on the table when the Father comes home and everything is nice and pleasant.The movie is almost like a comparison of ideal 50's life and 90's life. In Pleasantville, David and Jennifer get transferred into the television show and live out the lives of Bud and Mary Sue. Bud and Mary Sue enter a world full of censorship, a world in which the only colors permissible are black, gray and white. In the world of Pleasantville there is no messing around, things are orderly, every shot in the basket goes in and at the end of the street is the beginning of the same street. Yet this goes a little astray when Bud and Mary Sue aren't as 'pleasant' as the rest of the town which restores some color; the first very delicate pink rose grows in a world full of gray. Gary Ross has done a great job telling the story much like in his most recent movie "The Hunger Games". Pleasantville is not particularly similar to The Hunger Games, yet is has some similarities like both Bud and Katniss step into strange alien world in which they change their surroundings, much like when Katniss wins the Hunger Games and wins the hearts of Panem, Bud attempts to unify all of the people of Pleasantville.The movie is a well filmed production and has a heart warming storyline and really makes you appreciate the world in which you live in.


Let's see. How do I explain this? Hmmmm. This film is not one of the truly great films (like "Gone With The Wind" or "Doctor Zhivago" or "Lawrence Of Arabia"). But, nevertheless, it is -- quite simply -- a brilliant film.Oddly enough, I avoided watching this film for the last 17 years. And even after I started watching it this time, during the first 20 minutes I repeatedly had the urge to turn it off. It just seemed uninteresting. Then, when the two teens are magically transported to Pleasantville, a rather complex and intriguing story begins to unfold. I can't help but think that the story is loosely based on sort of the mirror image of "Father Knows Best", which was one of the most enchanting of all the early family story television shows from the 1950s. "Father Knows Best" was, of course, often the 1950s-idealized life, which wasn't very much like real life in the 1950s (although, I see "Father Knows Best" more as a drama and one in which each of the characters had their challenges, though those challenges were muted to fit into television mores of the era.One of the most intriguing things about this film is that the viewer doesn't really have much of any idea where the story is leading...to what conclusion it is racing toward.The acting here is top notch, even though no one in the cast is one of my favorite actors by any means. Tobey Maguire, never a favorite of mine (although I always saw him as a competent actor) is perfect here. I have enjoyed Jeff Daniels pretty much only in "The Newsroom" before this, but he brings a real sensitivity to his role here' I'm quite impressed. William H. Macy, another non-favorite of mine, is perfect as the "Honey I'm home" father. And the very talented (though I usually can't remember her name) Joan Allen as the mother is brilliant, as well.A word should be said about the wonderful special effects here -- dabs of color in a black and white world. Just about the most magical use of the concept since Dorothy landed in Oz.At first I thought that the director left out Black people, yet there is an interesting reference to them ("coloreds"). I wonder how the story would have changed if they had actually included African-Americans. The story doesn't end with a bang...the bang is earlier on.Excellent film, and while not one of the "great" film masterpieces...definitely brilliant.


Gary Ross's Pleasantville is one of the most heartfelt, creative, thought provoking dramedies I've seen in a while. I was floored by its benign, lighthearted first third, which gives way to some unexpectedly deep social commentary, brought to life bu truly remarkable performances, and stunning, storybook cinematography that looks like Sin City had a baby with Rumble Fish. Tobey Maguire, an actor I usually can't stand, is nicely low key, while his sister Reese Witherspoon gets the peppy, in your face persona. Following a terse bit of sibling rivalry, a strange TV repairman shows up, bestowing on them an ancient looking replacement remote. Before they can ask where he even came from, they are magically whisked from their 1990's living room right into TV land, specifically a cheery black and white 1950's sitcom called Pleasentville. They find themselves in a gosh golly, apple pie, white picket fence realm of perky, smiling housewives, rampant celibacy (the characters in this town are essentially shells of humans, and have no idea what sex is...yet;). The naive, mentally stunted townsfolk function at the truncated level that the show's writing is allowed, resulting in strangely robotic, stepford wives like versions of people. That all changes however, when Witherspoon introduces a highschool hunk (Paul Walker, hilarious) to the ol' hanky panky. From there on in the townspeople gradually discover books, music, art, and as such start to see the world in vibrant colors, and become colored themselves. It's a genius idea for a film that's executed perfectly, with some scenarios that really pay off, making you feel and think. J.T. Walsh, always fantastic, plays the town's fearful skeptic of a mayor. William H. Macy nails the father role perfectly (Where's my dinner?!), Joan Allen gives the best work I've ever seen her do, giving force and gentle feeling to the wife who starts exploring herself, and the world around her. The crown jewel acting wise though is Jeff Daniels, as an aloof diner owner who discovers an affinity for the arts. He brings such a warmth and budding humanity to the role. There's subtext relating to Mccarthy-ism, and not letting the powers that be tell how you what to like, how to feel or what to do. There's a lot to enjoy in this package, and indeed all aspects are done so well its a wonder this one hasn't retained acclaim over the years.