David Wagner is a kid whose mind is stuck in the 1950s. He's addicted to a classic 50's sitcom television show called "Pleasantville". Pleasntville is a simple place, a place where all of its citizens are swell and simple-minded folks, a place where the word "violence", and life outside of Pleasantville, is unbeknown to its inhabitants; things are perfect down in Pleasantville. One evening, the life of David and his obnoxious sister Jennifer take a bizarre turn when an eccentric repairman hand them a supposed magical remote. After a quarrel between the siblings, they inexplicably zap themselves into the world of "Pleasantville". Now, David and Jennifer must adjust to a 50s lifestyle of repressed desires and considerably different societal values while trying to find their way home. Written by
In the scene where Tobey Maguire (Bud/David) is driving Marley Shelton (Margaret) to Lover's Lane, he is driving a white 1952 Buick Roadmaster, and the song, "At Last," by Etta James, is playing in the background. Contrary to some claims, this is not the same model year car that Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman's characters drove in Rain Man (1988). See more »
In the Bowling Alley scene, as the men are speaking about the horrendous changes taking place, several of the men appear to be drinking from Coca-Cola bottles. However, the bottles appear to be 20 oz bottles. In 1958, the more common Coca-Cola bottle would have been an 8 oz bottle. or a 6 oz bottle. One of the men even appears to be drinking from a Diet Coke bottle of a later date. 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.
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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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