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In the film, two 90s teenagers (Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon) get
transported into a 50's Black & White sitcom called "Pleasantville". Once
there they began to influence the characters by destroying their innocence
and changing their values.
The picture starts out as a comedy or parody, if you will, of all of those B & W sitcoms like, Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show etc. As the story progresses and the characters begin to change, the mood of the film changes from B & W innocence to the realities of the nineties complete with sex, violence and protests.
All of the cliches of the old sitcoms are there, from the twin beds, to no toilets in the washrooms, to the "golly gee" "swell" innocence of the characters in Pleasantville. I thought that the comedy element of the 90s teenagers thrust into the Pleasantville environment could have been played out a little more.
Maguire and Witherspoon are good as the teenagers but it is veterans Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William A. Macy, J.T. Walsh and Don Knotts (himself a veteran of "Pleasantville" (aka Mayberry) who carry the film.
I liked many aspects of the film, however, I would have liked it better if director Gary Ross could have decided whether he was making a comedy or a drama at the outset.
I enjoyed Pleasantville somewhat, and it is never the place of a film
reviewer to stand atop a soapbox, but there were a few points throughout the
film that just made me wander what the creators were thinking.
Firstly, the blissfully ignorant teenagers suddenly come alive and become spirited after having promiscious sex at a place called "Lover's Lane." Good message to a nation whose youth pregnancy rate steadily climbs year after year.
Secondly, the blissfully ignorant mother discovers the pleasures of masturbation and proceeds to have an affair with the local soda jerk...after a talk about sex with her "daughter." Once again, husbands and fathers in this country are lambasted for two things: being male and being breadwinners. Meanwhile, adultery as a spiritual-awakening experience is all right in that context.
Thirdly, the blissfully ignorant Pleasantville takes a turn towards some sort of Deep South town in the pre-Civil Rights Movement 60s, Nazi-inspired fortress. Oh, I'm sure this is how it is so many small towns throughout America where people work hard, don't break the law, and retain their family values.
The director and writer, Gary Ross, appeared to have a lot of personal issues, perhaps familial issues, to work out, and used this overlong, trite, CGI-emhanced diatribe to display them in full color (no pun intended). Yes, it is well acted, by the most part, and it features incredible cinematography, but all of this is muddled in the negative message put forth by Ross on the screen. He fails on most accounts, especially through the cryptically weird ending.
I just couldn't get past the terrible acting by this Tobey Maguire. He looked like someone just saying their lines. I probably could have done better. The rest of the acting was good and I liked the premise but it seemed this movie didn't have an ending to me. Nothing was really resolved. Really liked Witherspoon (go watch Freeway) Daniels, Walsh and Allen. Don Knotts was cool too. I'll watch this again, maybe concentrate a bit more, but for now - 5 out of 10
Hi-class young actors (especially Reese), interesting story & camera & color decision, but when Europian style - at last - will influent on American movie society?! Sweet tear-squeezin' happy-end again n' again! Sometimes US give us some extraordinary cinematograph thinking but I'd like it happen more often
Okay, now I understand what the fuss was about this movie. It is very good. The idea is good, the acting is good... the whole atmosphere is good. The only thing that bothers me a bit is the fact that it emphasizes so much on sex. Don't get me wrong, sex is nice, but it seems -- toward the end -- that the makers of this movie realized that they had only used sex as the thing that would "wake people up" ie. give them color. But once they realized it, they came up with some very good ideas.
Plot: Two typical teenagers from the nineties find themselves stranded in a different era, similar to a 1950's monochromatic sitcom. Clash between distant times is "just around the corner"... Review: Welcome to "Pleasantville", land of the sunshine, where roads lead nowhere, where all men are equal and where what may seem an immaculate society dwells. While I could go on for hours complimenting the detailed and intricate special effects or other technical details, I can but notice the symbolic message behind Pleasantville that stands out as unique ( a completely different "set of colors" ). It seems a dream to entertain viewers in the virtual world of fantasia, yet it is only a reflection of our own society. Indeed, man strives to build his version of reality and life based on ethics and morals hoping to achieve utopia. However, under this veil intolerance and the evil hidden buds of human nature await. Utopia is another virtual reality, or more like another "episode" of the eternal sitcom. ( don't you think that is worth your 6$? )
"Pleasantville", starring Jeff Daniels, Reese Witherspoon and Toby Maguire
is a very interesting movie. It is unlike anything that I have ever seen
before. The plot is unbelievable at first, but then gets very interesting.
OK, here's what happens. Two siblings (Witherspoon and Maguire) get trapped
in a TV show from the 50's. These being 90's kids, they don't like it at
first. Then they realize that the town is boring because everything is so
perfect. After a while, they turn this black and white "Leave It To Beaver"
town into a lively color town.
The premise is very good, and I liked it a lot.
My rating: 8 out of 10
What a great movie.. at least to those with the slightest philosophical
The message here is NOT that sluts should read more or that acting on emotions is liberating. It is a metaphor for REAL life. Life is almost never what it seems on the face of it and people are infinitely more complex than can be conveyed in casual storylines.
Denial of the less than pleasant aspects of life does not make them go away, any more than railing against sin strengthens one against it. Ask any number of fallen preachers.
Excellent casting and acting all around.
You have to give writer-producer-director Gary Ross credit for what he was
trying to do in "Pleasantville": make a philosophical statement that maybe
the "nifty fifties" weren't so perfect after all.
Two typical, Gen-X teenagers (played wonderfully by Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon) are magically transported back into a 1950's television show called "Pleasantville." This place has obvious shades of "Father Knows Best" and is always genuinely pleasant.
The two teens from the nineties slowly but solemnly begin to shake things up in the "Pleasantville" world, inspiring the other kids to read, ask more questions, and even to engage in sexual activity.
Then again, has the arena of dating and sex among teenagers really changed all that much from the fifties to the nineties? I don't think so.
Still, you have to give Mr. Ross his due credit for creating a new world, utilizing special effects not as the key story element, but as a tool to push the story along. Mr. Ross also pulls surprisingly touching work from co-stars Joan Allen (as the ever-pleasant housewife Betty), William H. Macy (as the delightfully unsuspecting Dad George), and Jeff Daniels (as Mr. Johnson at the soda shop). It's also nice to know that, as the twentieth century comes to a close, maybe Generation X didn't do that bad of a job after all. Rated PG-13. 124 minutes. 8 out of 10.
I just saw Pleasantville last night, ready to be taken in by a good comedy about our culture. What I got was an over-long movie which tries to take on the evils of the "Moral Majority" by preaching about artistic censorship and sexual uptightness. For my part, the movie had too few funny moments and too many vague generalizations about complex cultural issues.
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