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Pleasantville More at IMDbPro »

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27 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Writer/First-time director Ross's bastardized version of Adam and Eve.

Author: Scott E. E. from Los Angeles, California
25 October 1998

Pleasantville, which is extremely well crafted and beautifully acted, must also be categorized as one of the most irresponsible films of our time. Gary Ross, who previously wrote Dave and Big, both of which were excellent comedies as well as being timely moral statements, has now crossed the line.

Not in filmic terms, but in morality.

It's obvious that Ross is making a statement about the inherent freedom within everyone from Adam and Eve right down to people within the world of television. This is a beautiful statement, one that should be lauded. But it is also one that should be tempered with responsibility and reason.

Tobey Maguire plays the proverbial Adam, a boy that loves everything to do with the 'pleasant' world of forties and fifties television, until he and his sister, Reese Witherspoon who plays the also proverbial Eve, are zapped into the television world of Pleasantville.

In this world, everything is black and white, until Eve feeds the apple to an unsuspecting boy. As his desire is aroused, color appears in the world. Soon, all the kids are doing it...literally, at the ridiculously named 'Lover's Lane'. More and more color appears, and yet, strangely enough nobody gets pregnant.

The mother of Adam and Eve, played by Joan Allen, is Mrs. Cleaver to a 'T', until her daughter teaches her about sex. After having been taught, the mother proclaims that the father would never to THAT, to which the evil Eve says, "There are other ways to find pleasure." To the mother, this means more than just masturbating in the bathtub. She leaves her home and family without even speaking with her husband and the only after math that we see is that food is not on the table.

In the end, the normal people of Pleasantville must somehow come to terms with the 'coloreds'. But what of consequence? The only true evil in the film comes by way of the males who refuse to partake in the world of color. They burn books, rape women, and are generally Hitler-esque.

In Ross's world, color means free will. The freedom to do whatever you please. This is truly an amazing thing that human beings possess, but this gift we have is tempered by the fact that we have consequences for every action that we indulge in.

In Pleasantville, there are no consequences.

In the ancient allegory, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the 'black and white' Garden of Eden, they were sent into the world we know too well. A world of hardship, but certainly a beautiful world.

Nobody dies in Pleasantville before and after color appears, there are no accidents, no mishaps, with unprotected rampant sex comes no disease, no pregnancy, no sense. With the pleasure, there is no pain.

Someone said, "How can we know the sweet without tasting the bitter?" Gary Ross will show you.

Pleasantville is like the allegory of Adam and Eve cast UP from the Garden of Eden straight to heaven... So why are we here at all?

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely heartwarming w/amazing performances.

Author: TheEmulator23 ( from S. Lake Tahoe, CA
12 May 2010

This movie I haven't seen in years & yet I often think about it. It was one of those films you were sad to see end. Beyond just the excellent & original story is all of the brilliant performances by all. In a cast that was excellent all around including Tobey McGuire & Reese Witherspoon before either of them were big stars I have to give special props to Jeff Daniels & Joan Allen. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't think this is an extremely good film. The way all of the characters interact is what makes this such a special film. I honestly don't know how this didn't make at least twice as much money as it did, because it's that original. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor & watch it & I dare you not to be impressed. I would especially recommend this to fans of 1950's & 60's shows such as "The Andy Griffith Show" & "The Dick Van Dyke show. Have fun & be prepared to be very impressed w/the originality & the tremendous performances by the huge & fabulous cast.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A unique movie that i did nothing but enjoy. Send my regards to Gary Ross.

Author: lrocksalot from United States
25 June 2011

In short terms, this is one of the best movies i've seen in a while. seriously think this is one of Tobey Maguire's best performances, along with so many other great actors and actresses that i don't even have to name. And the beauty of the scenery is just the icing on the cake. The best thing about this movie is that it only gets better each time you watch it, because you understand more of what's happening. It's hard to say anything that hasn't already been said, so all i have to say is, i fully recommend this to anybody that appreciates the more subtle movies that have so much more meaning and depth to them. It was just so, how do i put this, "pleasant." Gary Ross, i send my regards.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Altercation over continuity

Author: napierslogs from Ontario, Canada
8 October 2010

"Pleasantville" begins with two teenagers getting zapped into a TV show by a remote control. That kind of fantasy premise rarely plays out as something so good. What follows is an intelligent, funny and introspective examination of today's interpretation of 1950s sitcoms.

Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) and David (Tobey Maguire) are 90s teens, that are real and funny at the same time. She's a self-absorbed party girl; he's a nerdy home-body. He's ready to settle into a "Pleasantville" marathon - a black and white TV sitcom, but as laid out in the premise, they instead find themselves playing the brother and sister in the show.

The film follows how their modern ways affect the characters in the show. Some characters go through a sexual awakening, others more of a cultural awakening, but they each mature and advance in their own way. Even David and Jennifer find that these TV sitcom characters have something to teach them. The film is just so smart and funny that it doesn't come across as melodramatic, and the lessons on society aren't in your face.

"Pleasantville" is beautifully shot and well written, and is far from the teen fantasy film that it sometimes gets advertised as. Highly recommended.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Exploding with Originality

Author: RyanCShowers from United States
26 July 2010

Pleasantville is one of the most original movies I've ever seen. It's entertaining from beginning to end and charms the life out of you. The script....I don't know where to begin with the script. It's so imaginative and heart-warming; it's just wonderful. Its containment of sexual curiosity and racial discrimination is absolutely excellent. They are two of the biggest themes here and they are done beautifully. The script is just magical. The visuals are stunning to say the least, the evolvement from color to black and white is masterful. The acting is terrific. MaGuire, Witherspoon, and Allen in particular deliver great performances. Overall, you must witness this film and everyone should be inspired by the amount of creativity piled here; 10.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Please do not fry my brain! It's the only thing keeping me together!

Author: Medusa13 from United States
27 February 2003

Pleasantville deals with memory, and how we choose to remember the "good old days". When breakfasts were plentiful, and it never rained and dinner was at five and there was no such thing as sex and everyone obeyed their parents and got good grades and everything was just super. Well, transport two modern day teens into a 50's sitcom and watch them wreak havoc on this perfect little world from the past that we've created. I think everyone will agree, that is what this movie is about. Two teens trapped in a fictional, black-and-white world, where everything is perfect, and bringing with them unwanted, but ultimately, extremely necessary change. I believe that I have given a glorified description of this allegory, just as the director claims that we have a glorified view of the past. It seems so perfect, yet underneath, it's so extremely flawed. I do not see an overall message to this movie. If this was a paper, and I was a teacher grading it, I would write in bold red ink across the top, WHAT'S THE THESIS? It seems to be going in so many directions, and ends up being nothing more than melodramatic sap. At first the director seems to be saying that we view the past as perfect, but that's just our imperfect memory at work. But what's the deal with there being no such thing as rain, and never any fires? Well, reviewers will claim, this is not about real life, it's about characters on a television show. Wait a minute? I thought this was about us having a false perception of the past? 50's sitcoms were made in the 50's. False memory had nothing to do with it. It was about entertaining. Yes, I understand this suggests that the movie is about fiction vs. reality. However, if that is so, then it's not about change, it's about facing up to the truth that was always there. All of the elements seem to contradict each other. I'm so confused. I'm trying to balance all these things that are offered in the movie that just won't connect because they are randomly flying at me from from all over the place. We need color, nothing is just black-and-white. Ok, but I don't believe looking to the past, and realizing it wasn't perfect, is going to help us be more well-rounded people. It serves as nothing other than to tell us we're wrong, "the good old days" were not perfect. How does that affect the now? If it is about accepting that it is good that nothing is perfect in today's world, then that contradicts the idea that the past was not perfect. What is the director trying to say? The film does not know what it wants to be, is my final analysis. Is it about change? Acceptance of color, and rejecting black and white? Admitting that the past was not as perfect as we like to think? I don't know and I don't care. It gives no insight into the human condition, as far as I'm concerned, and that's all I care about in movies and literature. A 3/10. Just read The Giver or Harrison Bergeron. By the way, I heard that they were going to make The Giver into a movie, but they couldn't because Pleasantville stole it's thunder. No doubt it needed it to go along with that dramatic rain scene.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Is Carnal Knowledge, Like Ignorance, Really Bliss?

Author: Dalbert Pringle from New Zealand
18 July 2013

You know, I much preferred the b&w, 1950s town of Pleasantville before the characters of Jennifer and David arrived in it and literally corrupted it with the colors of carnal knowledge.

(Yep. That's right! - Corrupted it!)

It was especially the Jennifer "air-head" character who literally slutified Pleasantville in no time flat. She even educated her TV-Mother on how to please oneself through the dexterity of finger masturbation.

I thought that as a movie Pleasantville got its equation for fulfillment all wrong. By using the screwy metaphor of color as its yardstick to measure fulfillment, I was told, plain and simple, that a black and white world equaled sterility, close-mindedness and gross naivety. While, on the other hand, a Technicolor world meant only beauty, life-lovingness, and rich rewards.

This film seemed to have absolutely no understanding or appreciation for the targeted era in US culture that it so smugly attempted to belittle and ridicule.

Pleasantville's message was neither deep nor meaningful. All that this picture seemed to be was just another way for its producers to show off their expertise solely in terms of its CG imagery.

Pleasantville's story repeatedly told me that one must drop (like - Pronto!) all sexual inhibitions in order to be totally fulfilled in this life. And, yet, it made no mention that it's due to a lack of common sense and rampant, unprotected sex that this world is rife with STDs and unwanted pregnancies.

I found it really hard to believe that the characters living in Pleasantville (before the colors of sex arrived) were so bloody clueless that they didn't know that a whole, wide world existed out there beyond the idealistic borders of their quaint, little town.

Like, didn't these innocent-ones ever watch movies and TV? And, didn't they actually see in color?

And, finally - It really baffled me that the TV Repairman (whose motives were decidedly dubious) had become absolutely outraged when he found out what dear-Jennifer and her darling bro, David, had done to the innocence of Pleasantville - Especially since it was he who had zapped them there in the first place.

Like, what the hell did he expect to happen by introducing these 2 casualties of the post-sexual revolution into this unspoiled environment?

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Buried treasure.

Author: MisterCellophane from London, England
11 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**Spoilers throughout**

Unfairly eclipsed by the excellent The Truman Show, and easily dismissed as a facile "sucked into the TV" comedy, Pleasantville is truly an under-appreciated classic.

Strong performances and writing set it apart from films like the later Stay Tuned, with Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon displaying acting capabilities that transcend their youth. The standout in this excellent ensemble has to be Joan Allen, whose remarkably studied performance is a masterclass in character development, as her Betty slowly steps free of repression and blossoms into a woman of sensuous, simple beauty and independence. Jeff Daniels is charming too as Bill, the bow-tied soda store owner who discovers passions within. Coming to terms with one's inner passion isn't an easy process, we discover, as the town breaks apart into paranoia and fear, dangerously teetering on the brink of a kind of apartheid until even the staunchest black-and-white citizen realises that change is inevitable and that the unPleasant waits within. It is precisely this thread of tension that elevates Pleasantville over the level of easy comedy, though there are a good number of affectionate laughs here.

The beauty of Pleasantville is the way in which the film so easily and comfortably finds its stride and, like Groundhog Day, uses every last scrap of its unapologetically high concept to the maximum. The real coup de cinema is that the modern-day kids don't learn old-fashioned values as much as the citizens of Pleasantville learn from David and Jennifer how wonderful sexual and cultural freedom can be. This isn't just a fish-out-of-water comedy - the arrival of the kids disturbs the very fundament of Pleasantville. The way in which the seemingly happy yet horribly repressed town is slowly exposed to the freedoms of modern life is thrilling to watch - symbolised with such great clarity initially by the use of colour and other "unPleasant" things like lightning, rain and the joyous eruption of a tree into orange and yellow flames upon Betty's first orgasm. Another great achievement here is that the audience really gets a sense of how powerfully such changes impact upon the community - the first glimpse of a red rose is framed with such intensity that we ourselves are disturbed - uncertain as to whether we should be thrilled or frightened.

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13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Brave New World Meets The Twilight Zone

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
10 July 2003

I like this film. It's different. It invites the viewer to think about, and ponder, concepts like morality and values, stereotypes, fear, and social change. Each person will come away with his or her own interpretation of the film's "meaning". And this "meaning" will be consistent, no doubt, with the viewer's own life experiences, values, and belief system.

I consider "Pleasantville" to be a quasi-sci-fi film, one that I think Aldous Huxley and Rod Serling would both approve of.

The film does seem to get bogged down in the middle. It overplays the sex angle. And I could wish for more 1950's rock and roll music. But the acting is fine, especially the performance of Joan Allen. And the lighting is very well done.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that a film made in the last ten years could be as original, as cerebral, and as under-stated as "Pleasantville".

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Turning your black and white life into a world of colour

Author: david-sarkies from Australia
19 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I read a review of this movie and they trashed it because they said that it cheapened sex. As such, I decided not to watch it. At first I thought that it was in the same vein as the Truman Show, but it is far from it. Where the Truman Show had some deep, intricate themes regarding control, Pleasantville is about enjoying life and questions the ideas of morality.

The movie is about a fifties television show where everything is perfect. A boy loves the show while his sister scorns it. They are completely opposite in personality, she being a slut while he being a nerd. They then get drawn into the show, and the boy is ecstatic while she is angered, especially since she misses out on a date with Mr Studley from her school (who would want to date a donkey Mr Studley anyway - they sound so try-hard).

By the end of the movie, the boy has shed his shell and comes to see that a perfect world is not always a happy world while she discovers that there is much more to the world than sex. The movie depicts these changes in characters by giving them colours (as the TV Show is black and white). As people come to find joy in life, they come to take on colours. The movie emphasises that this joy is not simply sexual gratification, as the sister has a lot of sex, yet does not become coloured until she discovers the wonder of literature.

One wonders if this movie is trying to advocate the 90's over the fifties, but I don't think so. What I think this movie is trying to draw out is that which we find joyful. We might be happy doing something, but it might not be truly joyful, especially since we won't want to do it because of fear of persecution. This is emphasised at the end as those who are still black and white begin to persecute those who are coloured.

When I saw this movie, I wasn't paying that much attention, but what I did see was that it was a much better movie that I expected, and will have to watch it again more closely.

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