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Pleasantville (1998)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  23 October 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 98,141 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 689 user | 162 critic | 32 from

Two 1990s teenagers find themselves in a 1950s sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.



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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 19 wins & 37 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Morgan Stetler ...


David, single, lonely and not happy with his life, flees reality by watching Pleasantville - a 1950's b&w soap opera, where everything is just that... pleasant. His sister Jennifer, sexually far more active than her brother, gets in a fight with him about a very strange remote control. The remote was given to them just seconds after the TV broke, by an equally strange repair man. They suddenly find themselves in Pleasantville, as Bud and Mary-Sue Parker, completely assimilated and therefore black and white, in clothes a little different and with new parents... pleasant ones. David wants to get out of the situation as well as his sister, but whereas he tries to blend in (effortlessly, with his knowledge), she does whatever she wants to do. One event leads to the other, and suddenly there is a red rose growing in Pleasantville. The more rules are broken, the more colorful life gets in Pleasantville, USA. Written by Julian Reischl <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Nothing Is As Simple As Black And White. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 October 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amor a colores  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,855,063 (USA) (23 October 1998)


£790,203 (UK) (26 March 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


An earlier post said that Gary Ross only acknowledges two cinematographic homages - the one from Patton, and the one from To Kill a Mockingbird - so this may fall more under the category of "Easter egg" than homage, but it's too specific to be coincidental, so...

In the scene where Bud is driving Margaret to Lover's Lane, he is driving a white convertible, and a beautiful, period-appropriate song is playing in the background. That car? A 1949 Buick Roadmaster. The song? "At Last," by Etta James.

The same car driven cross-country by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, and the same song Cruise and Hoffman dance to in a very touching scene near the end of the movie.

Maybe a hidden homage, maybe not. But if not, one of the coolest unintentional movie references ever. See more »


While Mary Sue is explaining sex to her mother, her hair changes between shots. See more »


[first lines]
[David is gazing admiringly at a pretty blonde girl]
David: *Hi*
David: 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 »

Crazy Credits

The New Line logo plays in complete silence. See more »


References Fahrenheit 451 (1966) See more »


Dream Girl
Written by Johnny Mitchell and Robert Carr
Performed by Robert & Johnny
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A brilliant and vastly underrated cinematic experience
23 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

PLEASANTVILLE had to be one of the biggest surprises I've ever had at the movies. This superbly mounted and completely winning fantasy starred Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a contemporary teenage brother and sister who are magically transported into a black and white television show called "Pleasantville", a show similar to "Leave it to Beaver" or "I Love Lucy", where everyone in the town knows each other, where the fire department only saves cats from trees and never put out fires and where there are no pages in the books or toilets in the bathrooms. Maguire's character is a "Pleasantville" trivia expert so he knows everyone there and everything that's going to happen but sis Witherspoon is a stranger in a strange land whose introduction of 1990's sensibilities to the citizens of this town brings about extraordinary changes. The film is beautifully made with a very smart screenplay and superb performances, the best of which is by Joan Allen, who is luminous as Betty, the mother in the sitcom who is shocked at first but learns to accept the 1990's coming to Pleasantville. Yes, it may borrow from other movies, but there is a freshness and originality to this movie that is most engaging and anytime with Don Knotts is time well spent.

27 of 38 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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