David, nerdy high school student, flees reality by watching Pleasantville - a 1950's b&w sit-com, 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 <email@example.com>
Though many believe that the shot of Bud raising his arms up in triumph during a rainstorm is an homage to The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Gary Ross thought it was an original idea, and didn't realize the connection until after the film was released. See more »
When the TV repairman talks to David and Jennifer from the television after they've just been transported to Pleasantville, behind him, the test pattern's position on the screen is slightly different in the close-ups. This was done deliberately "to indicate Knott's changing attitudes towards Bud and Mary Sue". 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 »
Some critics here are saying the movie takes itself too seriously - but I believe some people are taking it too literally. ... Saying that the topics that are addressed have no impact on society anymore, clearly misses the point. ... The 50s -- or more specifically, 50s TV -- is used as a metaphor, because of the way 50s TV portrayed life in America. ... Thematically, this movie is about "Living Life" to the fullest, whatever that means. More specifically, to live life to the fullest -- to truly feel "alive" -- you need to take the good with the bad. Sweeping things under the rug and just acting "pleasant" all the time, is no way to live. That's what Tobey McGuire's speech at the end to his "real" mother is all about. Bad things happen, it's part of life. Having passion brings with it positives and negatives -- but suppressing true feelings for the sake of "pleasantness" is an empty life. THAT is the key ... and that "issue" is everlasting to the human condition.
Another point: People fear change. This is universal from the start of time until the end of time. The film suggests that changing and growing as a society and as people -- even if scary -- is good. Just because the 50s were used as a metaphor for that, don't believe for a minute this isn't a universal issue that exists today and forever.
Another issue common for people critical of this film is the sexual issue. They say that Gary Ross is promoting sexual promiscuity, sex out of wedlock, etc... Again, I believe it misses the point. Is Ross suggesting that premarital sex is OK? Yes, and I'd agree - and I'm sure there's plenty of people who don't agree with that, and that's OK too. But, again, the sex is just part of the theme - used as a high-profile example to making the overall point about "openness" - and not suppressing one's feelings. Note that the Reese Witherspoon character was already promiscuous, and her transformation was actually something completely different.
I can't make everyone like this film - I'll just say that, on a personal note, I was so floored by this film, I had to see it again the next day. That had never happened to me before, or since. Ross' commentary goes on to speak of everything I felt about the film when I first saw it. It was great to hear that his reasons for what he did, meshed exactly with how I took it. I had to write him a letter to tell him so - another thing I'd never done before or since.
This is not a perfect film. I liked its subtlety, but then the racism correlation, and the censorship stuff, got a bit more overt. The courtroom scene at the end is a bit cliche ... and I also agree with one poster who said that, to make the point about taking the good with the bad, we should've seen a bit more about the consequences of their actions.
Those are merely nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. This is a 10 out of 10.
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