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Pleasantville (1998)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy  |  23 October 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 99,020 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 scores projected during the bowling alley scene indicate all the bowlers are on pace for final scores of 230 or better. Two bowlers have perfect scores through eight frames. 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 Weeds: Suburban Shakedown (2005) See more »


At Last
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Music by Harry Warren
Performed by Etta James
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

I heard about this movie, but I didn't know that it would be THIS good....
8 April 2000 | by (Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

I knew what this film would be about before I rented it, but I'm stunned that it would be THIS good. Nothing against "Saving Private Ryan" or "Shakespeare in Love", but this film should have won Best Picture in 1998 and it was a shame that it wasn't nominated. It's an even bigger injustice that it did not get a nomination for best screenplay or cinematography.

In the hands of another writer, this movie could have been made as just a parody of 1950's sitcoms like "Leave It To Beaver" or "Ozzie and Harriet." But this film isn't about how clichéd those series look decades later. It's about the false nostalgia for a past that never existed. We survived the past and we know that everything turned out all right. Because of this, we selectively choose our memories and weed out the unpleasant ones. That's why the past is sometimes seen as "the good ol' days." Pleasantville does not represent how the 50's actually were but rather an idealization of what people THINK the 50's were---no one had sex, everyone got along swell, and life was fairly easy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there are many film from that era which show how real people (even in suburbia) actually lived. This film argues that free will and choice is ESSENTIAL to life and that we should embrace freedom instead of fearing it. It isn't just about making out, but having the OPTION to make out.

Another reviewer claimed that this film was an attack on the 50's, but David and Jennifer could very easily have been dumped in the world of "The Brady Bunch", "Gilligan's Island" , or "Batman." But setting "Pleasantville" in a 1950's sitcom allows for the brilliant metaphor of black and white versus color. Black and white photography is a stylized depiction of the universe, but unless you're color blind it's not the way you actually see the universe. When we first see Pleasantville's citizens, all of them are cardboard cut-outs of stereotypes. As they begin to open up and become real people, color seeps into their world. The catalyst seems to be the willingness to experience new sensations and become vulnerable. Jennifer has slept with lot of guys when she was in the normal world, so sex does not change HER into a color character. On the other hand, when she actually finishes a book (without pictures) for the first time in her life, THEN she becomes colorized. Similarly, David does not bloom into color until he breaks out of his aloofness and defends his "mother." Compare the way he ignores his real mother at the beginning of the film to how he consoles and comforts her at the end to see how much David has changed.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. There are a lot of films out there that are very entertaining and/or very moving--like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "Titanic." Movies like "Pleasantville" which challenge the audience and force them to think are very rare, and should be treasured by the discerning filmgoer.

237 of 264 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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