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Pleasantville (1998)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  23 October 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 99,019 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 690 user | 164 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

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 16 wins & 40 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 <julianreischl@mac.com>

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?


The film is dedicated to director Gary Ross' mother, actor J.T. Walsh and camera assistant Brent Lon Hershman who was killed in a car crash in the middle of the shoot. See more »


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 »


[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 »


Referenced in Special Collector's Edition: Supercop (2011) See more »


So What
Written and Performed by Miles Davis
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Good tale on values and change that loses it's way occasionally and is quite slow
14 January 2002 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When a mysterious TV repairman gives David a new remote control both he and his sister gets sucked into an old 50's show called Pleasantville. A first all seems perfect in a cheesy 1950's way - all language is wholesome, everything is black and white, none of the sports team ever miss and nothing is unwholesome. However when David and Jenifer begin to influence those around them they not only change attitudes and behaviour but start to bring colour to the town. The town splits in it's attitude to this change.

This is a very gentle comedy but with a hint of a moral about it. It starts out with `once upon a time' and that's quite apt in that it is a fable with a moral in the way many fairy tales are. At the start it's all quite small and the film almost shows the changes as bad and something that has comedy value, however later the changes are shown as something that should be embraced rather than feared. Then those who fear change and expression are shown to be wrong. It's all quite clever - the only problem to me was that the message felt a bit muddled and could have been a bit clearer - but then maybe that's the point, we learn our own lessons from it.

The effects are excellent throughout - colour creeps in in some objects and people to great effect. It's very well done and never seems unnatural. As a metaphor for change or lost innocence it gets a bit tired but for most it's very effective as a way of seeing people's true feelings come out.

The cast are great - Maguire and Witherspoon are both good (yes, even Witherspoon!), but the real strength comes from the adult support cast. Daniels gives a great understated role, it's not his best as he plays it a little too much like a wounded deer at times but he's still very good. Allen is the strongest as she has to carry much of the story with Macy who it goes without saying is superb - they share some very emotionally charged scenes together. It's always a pleasure to see the late J.T. Walsh in anything and here he is good in a comparatively minor role.

Overall this is a very enjoyable film that is very thoughtful and easily overcomes it's slow pace and slight lack of total clarity.

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