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Pleasantville
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Pleasantville More at IMDbPro »

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An overall enjoyable, light film.

Author: Greg from USA
15 July 2002

Well, this obviously isn't supposed to be some incredible cinematic masterpiece with a deep, profound theme to deliver; and reading through some reviews here, it seems a few people really took it as such. What's the point of criticizing a movie from a serious perspective if it isn't meant to be serious? I mean, it's about two kids jumping into their TV with a magical remote, for fuck's sake. What did you expect? The film makes a simple point -- and I'm willing to bet it's not the first to bring it up. When it's done, not much is left to the imagination, but so what? It is just a little off-the-wall fantasy story or fairy tale with that same message of individualism and creativity to throw at you -- the beauty and wonder of eccentric free thought and emotion. Its entire point is to elevate this as the nexus of our humanity, beyond tradition, stability and benign comfort.

So, taking it as such, I thought it was enjoyable -- even if for no reason other then its style. I'm a sucker for all things retro and that 50's culture/atmosphere has always fascinated me. Of course, the movie's not supposed to portray what real life in the 50s was like. Instead, it brings to the screen that cheesy, "picture-perfect," television stereotype: a monotonous, plain, patriarchal and conservative society that knows nothing but its stable, boring, predictable lifestyle -- the "Honey, I'm home!", "Dinner's on the table!" , ridiculously flawless, idealistic suburban town. It's literally in black-and-white.

It would be a huge understatement to say that colors played an essential part in this movie. They practically made it. And though playing around with these colors got old rather quickly, I really liked the way this film blended black-white and colored scenery together. Many parts played out like great satire; some of it was just really funny; other moments breached critical levels on my retard-o-meter.

A little annoying at times, but there are a few golden nuggets along the way as well.

All-together, a fun movie to watch.

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A nice, somewhat tame, film that seems to make people think.

8/10
Author: jarius from Gothenburg, Sweden
2 July 2002

I truly enjoyed this film and it´s light social commentary. As I understand it the film is about the fact that accepting change and diversity is something valuable. The main point is that confronting your own prejudices and accepting the diversity in our lives make it so much easier to enjoy and appreciate.

The fact is that every society throughout human history that has stopped evolving, and focused on preserving the Status Quo, has broken down. This is especially true to societies that refuse to accept new ideas and intellectual independence. And as I understand it, keeping the social Status Quo and protecting an abstract idea called "the American way of life" was the main goal of the 50´s U.S. culture. Remember that this was a time in U.S. history when people were punished for their ideals and thoughts via the oppressive structure called McCarthyism.

In this, very light and in my opinion surprisingly tame, film this is shown in the way people react to the coloureds, i.e. the people who start to brake social conventions. And it is not until the people of Pleasantville start accepting change that they can see the problems in their society.

Now I have to admit that I have trouble understanding all aspects of U.S. culture. That is why I have a hard time understanding the critique that some commentators have posted against this film. I know that, especially in the U.S., sexuality and rebellion against social tabu´s is a touchy subject.

But that is what makes this a good film, it actually manages to make people think and that is all too rare in contemporary American cinema.

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Pleasant to watch, but...

8/10
Author: tim777ca
18 June 2002

Modern brother and sister accidentally enter the fantasy world of 1950s TV sitcom and change the lives of its people?

Though Pleasantville is beautifully filmed, its premise about sitcom is totally wrong. What makes a sitcom? Situation of course. Anyone who has seen the typical 1950s sitcom "I Love Lucy" would know there are many incidents in an episode. If nothing happens in its characters' daily lives, like this film depicts, there would be no situation. Who wants to see such a dull TV series?

Besides, young Tobey Maguire's character is too mature to be interesting. He keeps preaching to everybody in the movie, including his own mother!

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Pleasantville was a movie I was looking forward to since I first saw the previews for it a few months ago. And it didn't disappoint. It was a well made, well acted film, that while at times beat you over the

7/10
Author: Chris Brown (christopher6453@hotmail.com) from Fresno, CA USA
17 June 2002

Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon play David and Jennifer, two all-American kids growing up in today's world. Jennifer is the "cool" kid, while David is, well, not. While Jennifer is into trying to get guys, and smoking and all that, David is into watching tv, especially his favorite tv show, Pleasantville. Tonight David and Jennifer have slightly different plans. David is planning on watching a 24 hour marathon of Pleasantville, while Jennifer is planning on watching a concert on MTV with this guy she's invited over. During their squabble over the all-mighty remote, it breaks, and a mysterious stranger is at the door (Don Knotts). He hands them a new remote that changes their lives forever. Somehow David and Jennifer get zapped into the tv, and are now part of Pleasantville.

Pleasantville (the tv show) is an old black and white wholesome show where the father comes home from work everyday at 5, his wife has prepared dinner for them, and the two kids rush over to see daddy. The temperature never goes above or below 72 degrees, and life is well, pleasant. David and Jennifer (who are now Bud and Mary Sue) have to deal with this new life, while trying to figure a way out. Soon the black and white world of Pleasantville is turning colorized, and people aren't sure what to do. Is this change a good thing, or will it ruin the lives of the people of Pleasantville?

There are a few obvious messages screenwriter/director Gary Ross is trying to show. So I'll just tell you what I got out of it. Basically I thought he was trying to say that people need to express themselves. Your world will remain in black and white unless you're willing to open your eyes to new experiences. Once you start seeing what the world around you has to offer, your once black and white world can open up into a rainbow of colors. Of course Ross could have been trying to say that being an individual is important rather than always following what the group says. Or he could have been saying, "can't we all just get along?" Whatever his real message was, he certainly hits his point, over and over and over again. I though I was pretty smart picking up on his message (something I usually don't see) early on in the film. Then for the last 30-45 minutes, he just kept slamming his message into you again and again. And while I didn't feel that he needed to, it didn't really take away from the movie.

The black and white vs. color idea was something different. The special effects were quite cool in fact. Seeing how the world of Pleasantville slowing transformed, flower by flower, face by face, into color was very interesting. Although for a while it seemed the only way a person could turn into color was by having sex (an idea later refuted by Mary Sue). The acting was wonderful, and it was all held together by Tobey Maguire. His character (David/Bud) had a powerful yet boyish innocence about him. He knew the tv show so well he knew what all the people were supposed to be doing, yet after trying desperately to keep them in line, he realized that maybe change was a good thing. The one character that truly showed how change can affect you was the mom Betty Parker (Joan Allen). Her performance showed how change can be exciting and at the same time frightening. It was funny to see how all the kids changed into color first, while all the older white males were the last to go. It tells me that the kids of today are more willing to go out there and make changes, and that we are the voice of a new world. But those older white guys will come along, once they realize that maybe kids have something important to say.

So overall, I really enjoyed Pleasantville. It was well made, and well acted. And while it did beat you over the head with its many messages, the story was still done in such a way that I didn't really mind it. It's a movie that I'll probably see again.

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So much to dislike, let me count the ways. . .

7/10
Author: Tim Shaw (teejayniles2345) from USA
26 May 2002

I was flabbergasted to finally see this "family" film on MEMORIAL DAY and all I had heard about it was the positively regarded visual special effects of grays - - > color. I can't imagine more wrong choices as far as a script; if this was meant to be a family picture, why so many references to teen sexual activity as casual and liberating? In the real world where I live, people have to live with consequences (pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, guilt from exploitation, etc.). The sister who tampers with the Black/White/Grayness of the world and helps it to "Fall" as in a Genesis "eating of the APPLE" kind of way doesn't even come back to the real world after finding that she can project some D.H. Lawrence novel that she's never even read somehow. I also don't appreciate being lumped together and "dumped on" in behalf somebody's biased view of the somewhat restrained/censored Fifties. Suburbs, conformity, and repressive "whiteness" are too-easy targets that got lampooned much better elsewhere in Peter Weir's THE TRUMAN SHOW. Steer away from this people-exploitation film that has some odd performances (the best is given by Don Knotts) in favor of some better "small town" screenplays with an actual "heart" like CHOCOLAT (2000) that was set in an imaginative realm with diverse people to really care about!

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Great ideas, falls apart in the second half

Author: ggreenbaum from NoVa
13 May 2002

Even though I see the great flaws in this movie, it fascinates me.

First, Ross is very poor at tying up loose ends. What became of the real Bud and Mary Sue? What's going on with Joan Allen and her "men"?

What was up with the TV Repairman driving off with an enigmatic expression? Was he happy or sad at what happened? Second, the idea of the "whites" becoming "Coloreds" (the race thing is done to death). Why didn't any of the kids in the malt shop riot become colored after they experienced violence and then trashed the place? Yet, they did while quietly sitting in the courtroom scene. Answer: Inconvenience to the plot. Third, I don't mind the liberal pot shots, such as the race thing, and the sex attitudes. But pot shots is the appropriate phrase, as Ross goes out of his way. The "code of conduct", in addition to possibly appropriate McCarthy themes, brings in creationism for no obvious reason except to take a shot at it. Has nothing to do with the plot. And in Pleasantville, creationism, is correct. Duh, it was created. Great ideas, poor ending, Ross really lost sight of the goalposts on this one.

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Very original idea, shame about the ending

7/10
Author: ellen from Kent, England
16 April 2002

Hmm, this is one of those films which starts out incredibly well, is an incredibly original idea, but after about halfway through, starts to go a bit downhill, eventually reaching a total anti-climax. In that respect, it is not dissimilar to "Final Destination" or "Cube".

I'm not saying that it is not a good film. It is. But let's just say that the ending left a little to be desired.

It is a very very original idea...it starts off so promising. The acting is faultless, the transition to black and white is very clever, the script is very witty. I think that where it goes wrong is that it tries just a little too hard to be intelligent. But it doesn't need to...that comes across naturally, and instead of being able to sit back and enjoy it as the delightful gem that it is, you spend too long trying to analyse the confusing subtle undertones.

And whilst it endeavours to prove itself as a serious piece of cinematography, it forgets small, but vital plot details, which, for a viewer who must have every last detail tied up and successfully concluded, proves incredibly frustrating viewing.

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pleasantly surprised!!!!

Author: sherrie shaw from texas
15 April 2002

I hadn't heard anything about this movie so I really didn't know what to expect. I was as I said pleasantly surprised. I really rented this and a few other Tobey Maguire movies to see how his acting was and try to visualize him playing Spiderman. Well, everything I have seen him in he was very good so I'm looking forward to seeing him on the big screen. Pleasantville was a fun surprise and I love how they introduce color(and the premise as to why they do it) slowly to an otherwise mostly black and white film. A touching, heartfelt movie, enjoy.

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Interesting Movie

Author: Kacey from texas
17 March 2002

That's all I can say really about this movie. It was interesting. I'm sure most people have dreamt of being in their favorite TV show. Well, for David (Tobey Maguire) he gets thrown into a 1950's sitcom he loves so well. There he plays the role of Bud Parker. Along for the ride is David's sister Jennifer. She's that type of girl who gets all the guys and loves to be wild. When she's thrown into Pleasantville as Bud's sister Mary Sue, her world gets turned upside down. Will she change her ways from that of a wild romancer, or will she continue to charm all the guys? And will David change his ways and become more outgoing? Watch to find out.

6/10 stars

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Allegorical fairy-tale fantasy

6/10
Author: Keith F. Hatcher from La Rioja, Spain
28 February 2002

Gary Ross has emerged from un unstomachable concoction, which is the world of those silly telenovels, sitcoms, soap, or whathaveyou, to make a surprisingly enjoyable film. I say surprisingly as a priori I expected very little, but got a few laughs out of it. Earmarking inward-looking self-complacency and parrochial mentalities so often evident in so-called well-heeled societies, and carrying it to a rather overblown degree is hardly a way of making anything be convincing. However, evidently, that was not Ross's intention: but the allegory is clear. And well done. My only real complaint is that he should have cut all the dialogues during those minutes in which Dave Brubeck's `Take Five' could be heard. Not that the dialogue was bad, but Brubeck's piece is always worth a good listen. The ending is certainly a failure, not at all in keeping with the rest of the film. Somewhat spoiled the effect. Or was it on purpose so as to throw us back into some seedy soap-opera atmosphere so that everyone would understand it?

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