A brother and sister from the 1990s are sucked into their television set and suddenly find themselves trapped in a 1950s style television show. Here they have loving parents, old fashioned values, and an overwhelming amount of innocence and naivete. Not sure how to get home, they integrate themselves into this "backwards" society and slowly bring some color to this black and white world. But as innocence fades, the two teens begin to wonder if their 90s outlook is really to be preferred. Written by
R. P. Falvey
The year is 1958. When Bud and his girlfriend are driving down to lover's lane, she turns on the radio. The song that comes on is Etta James' "At Last". That song wasn't released until 1961. See more »
[David is gazing admiringly at a pretty blonde girl]
I mean, Hi. Uh, look, you probably don't think I should be asking you this. I mean, not knowing you well and all? I mean, you know, I, I, I know you, 'cause everybody knows you. I just don't know you technically. Uh, anyhow. Uh, I don't know what you're doing this weekend, but my mom's leaving town, and she's letting me borrow the car.
[...] See more »
The New Line logo plays in complete silence. See more »
The basic theme here being that the meaningful life requires breaking out of rigid, dull and conventional roles, this film's story sucks two teens back through their television set to a fictitious 1950s sitcom named "Pleasantville," where life is in gray-tones until they start breaking the rules. The self-referential notion of having characters interact with the very media which represents them has its counterpart as far back as 1924 with Buster Keaton in "Sherlock Jr.," in 1970 with a low-budget film named "The Projectionist," and in 1985 with Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo." But where the others explore the private experience of self-discovery through their enmeshment with the media, this one explores a much wider public awareness. In that sense it is a very cleaver and intelligent story, offering numerous social messages worthy of consideration.
On the downside, its message that "different" is better mostly translates into "contrary" means better, providing an "anything goes" mentality in answer to conventional values. The rules are to be broken by gratuitous sex, loud music, and cheap garish art. Not "transcending" in answer to different, but rather setting up what is conventional today as more desirable than what was conventional back then. Exchanging one convention for another is not for that reason an improvement, and the attempt to do so results in a self-congratulatory narcissism of the form: See how much more urbane and sophisticated we are than our parents were? The 1950s are set up as a straw-man, while the values of the 1990s are simply taken for granted as superior. Hence the deeper questions of change, growth and improvement, are never asked, and what we are given merely puts the past down without bringing up the present.
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