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Pleasantville More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: Nathan
13 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A funny look at a made-up 1950's sit-com and how a brother and sister get literally sucked into the makeup of the show and begin to change the landscape of not only the city itself, but the values that dwell within. This movie is funny to start out with, and there are a couple of great performances, but this thing begins a downward spiral during the last 1/4 of the movie. It does a very good job establishing its agenda and message, being not to fear change and to embrace diversity, however it pushes it too far in the end, feeling too much like a liberal Hollywood production that pleads with you to be in awe of it. It is probably worth watching just for the gorgeous visuals that are on display, but the end of the movie in particular left me wanting more.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Still Pleasant for a second viewing!

Author: lasttimeisaw from China
28 April 2014

A re-watch of PLEASANTVILLE from writer-director Gary Ross (THE HUNGER GAMES 2012, 7/10) is as pleasant as it the title suggests, a really novel cautionary tale coated with a profound satire milieu. It is a golden idea to juxtapose monochrome with colourful graduation concurring with the evolving storyline. A present-day (1990s) high school siblings David (Maguire) and Jennifer (Witherspoon) have been transported inside their TV, as Bud and Mary Sue, the children of George and Betty Parker (H. Macy and Allen), living in a small black & white town called Pleasantville, based on a sitcom of 1950s where all its residents are also exclusively black and white and comport themselves in a monotonous harmony with storybook unconsciousness of their own feelings, books are blank, toilets are empty spaces, basket-shooting accuracy is 100%, fire and rain are non-existent, parents never hear about sex, the lovey-dovey Lovers' Lane is the place where young couples go for holding hands.

In order to get back their life on track until the odd TV repairman (Knotts) is willing to transport them back to reality, David, who is a big fan of the show, proposes they should abide by their characters and act along with rest of the people, but Jennifer is a unchaste nonconformist, on their first night, she has her way with the basketball jock Skip (Walker), like the snake in the Eden, she usher sex in the town, and ignites the ripple effects with colour-transformations (from black & white to multicolour) of the unsophisticated denizens whoever experiences any degree of self-discovery and the objects as well. Betty rejects to be an archetype housewife and finds uninhibited romance with Bud's friend Bill (Daniels), whose untapped talent as a painter also be spontaneously triggered thereafter by her. Meanwhile, David (Bud) and Jennifer (Mary Sue) are also undergoing their own metamorphosis through the revolutionary shift, their own life- changing epiphanies will arrive too although from the mid-stream Jennifer is largely sidelined in the plot while David becomes a pioneering hero to defend his cause to unleash everyone's own feelings from the conservative party leads by mayor Big Bob (Walsh).

A great cast of veterans, Joan Allen is the MVP as she stuns the audiences with her elegant flair to bring true vitality to her role, she is the most intrepid person in the film, the ending with an equivocal ménage-à-trois scenario is a big thumb-up to the liberation of feminism. William H. Macy has less showy pieces to perform, but he effuses a drolly naivety all the way through, his final conversion is cliché in the script but he nails it with compelling sympathy. It is also a career-defining role for Reese Witherspoon, her Jennifer is the kind of rebellious kids with an open mind about sex and a hipster's selfishness, as in Alexander Payne's ELECTION (1999, 7/10) one year later. Tobey Maguire has been consistent outstanding in his earlier filmography, not as wide-eyed as he looks, in the films he is always arresting without giving away too much information about his true feelings, it is the real deal to be a star on the big-screen, as SPIDER- MAN trilogy (2002-2007) would prove, which earns him a deluge of money but also ruins his following career, or maybe acting is not the priority in his life now, how pitiful it is.

What is not so agreeable in the film? In some way, the script is too idiosyncratic to make the ends meet, one has to be a complete non-skeptic to buy all its castle-in-the-air premise, nevertheless it is a film has its distinct merits, to say the least is Randy Newman's hearty music score and Gary Ross' competence to single-handedly pin down its dystopia nucleus with sterling nostalgia lustre.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"TV time! Remember, you're soaking in it!"

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
26 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's difficult to find movies with a completely novel concept one hasn't seen before, so in that sense, "Pleasantville" is one of the more original films you're likely to come across. Occasionally other pictures rely on the black and white/color dichotomy, but this one does so to present an interesting idea. When a person steps outside of their normal comfort zone in the picture, they transform from black and white into color. The concept is then turned on it's head when the majority (the b&w) start to turn on those who have experienced something new (the coloreds). I don't know if that was supposed to be an overt comment on racism or not, but I got that impression, similar to the way the issue of race was handled in the Loki episode of 'Star Trek' back in the 'real' Sixties.

It was also pretty cool to see one of the Sixties' most memorable character actors, Don Knotts, in the role of the TV repairman. I'm glad they had his personality toned down as opposed to the brainless deputy Barney Fife he portrayed on the "Andy Griffith Show". What a neat way to make the transition from the 1998 (then) present to the decades earlier past.

Reading some of the other reviews posted on this board, it's kind of comical to me to see how young present day viewers interpret a past they hadn't lived through and which they can't fully understand. Entertainment media in all forms has undergone a gradual transition over time and what once were taboo subjects for TV like the word 'pregnant', are almost unimaginable with the way anything goes nowadays. I'm reminded of my own son when he was only about eight years old asking me if when I was a kid, did everything exist in only black and white.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

it was OK

Author: jonathan_393 from United States
9 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was very like the book i read called Farenheight 451. There was much discrimination, fire fighters don't put out fires. They only rescue cats. I gave this movie a 7 out of 10 because it was a very good movie, not great. Good. The humor amused me though. The movie became more and more interesting as it progressed because everything was turning colors. It look weird to have colored people on a black and white setting. It looked like it was hard to make. I like the cable guy's character because he is snobby and funny. I think that the choice of actors was great! My favorite part of the movie was the Cort room scene.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Interesting concept but flawed execution

Author: Aussiesmurf from Melbourne, Australia
10 October 2002

Pleasantville is a fabulous idea that tries to cram a heck of a lot of high concept into its running time.

Modern teenagers are transported by a convenient remote control into an apparent utopia within the small town setting of a 1950s television show.

Fairly innocent conflicts regarding 'geography' and sexual mores give way to a more serious agenda concerning small-minded prejudice, bigotry and the value of individualism. There is much use of symbolism, particularly the gradual depiction of characters and objects in colour rather than black and white.

The acting is of a high quality, with seasoned performers such as Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels and William Macy providing a solid background to (relative) newcomers Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon.

However, some of the messages and symbolism is alternatively muddled (the timing of the transformations to colour) and heavy-handed (the signs that start to spring up saying 'no coloureds'.

Having said that, there is a lot to like about 'Pleasantville', even if the loftiness of its ambitions is only partially met by its success.

Worth a look.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Visually impressive but somehow fails to deliver

Author: Russ@RT from Rugby, England
16 May 1999

An interesting concept which, if not wholly original, is at least well presented thanks to modern digital effects.

The main characters of the film - including David & Jennifer (Toby Maguire & Reese Witherspoon) - seem very two dimensional, making the transition from black & white to colour less convincing than it could have been. The one possible exception to this is the attraction between Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen, which is wonderfully underplayed at the start, suggesting that before the arrival of the two 90's teenagers they had never really noticed each other before.

It is not entirely surprising that the film has not been more successful commercially. It does not appear to have been very well marketed, especially the trailer which almost put me off seeing the film, and as a result has failed to capture the public's imagination despite receiving critical acclaim in the press.

Overall, this is a film which could have been so much more and done so much better but at the end of the day is just pleasant.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good good good movie

Author: spinbunny from London, Ontario
23 October 1998

Great movie, great concept (and not a rip-off of The Truman Show!) Smacks a wee bit of the racism in the South in the 50s and 60s and of Nazi-ism but doesn't dwell on the fact. Go see it: the best movie out in ages as most movies this fall have really really bit!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Anti-nostalgia for our times.

Author: Delmar Jacobs from Sarasota, FL
9 October 1998

Wonderful, 'anti-nostalgia' vision of life's entrapments, both then and now. Several shots and scenes are homages to renown films and newsreel images in our collective consciousness.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Is that all ?

Author: gordongrant25
2 December 2014

I've been hearing about this movie for years. We watched it last night for the first time and all I have to say is : Is that all ? The first 30 minutes or so looked promising but it soon became apparent that this would be still another 'Hollywood treatment' of a not bad idea. Everything was so predictable and as expected. And it seemed that it could not decide on an ending. The Reese W. part started with a bang but an hour into the story she had mostly vanished. Toby M was engaging enough but Joan A which I usually like very much was bland and grey even in full color ! I found the entire film juvenile and uninspired. Tedious !

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

I didn't know just how surprised I was while watching this movie

Author: blazesnakes9 from United States
2 March 2014

In the 1950's, television made its breakthrough in American households. Such 1950's television shows like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver hit the airwaves and create a generation of its own kind. But as time went on, television soon began to experiment on controversial social subject matter. Television shows like All in the Family, The Jeffersons and St. Elsewhere told American families and households about certain social issues such as rape, AIDS, the Vietnam War, racism and even sexual oppression. However, there was one television show that was clearly flipped upside-down. That show was called "Pleasantville".

Pleasantville is a film that I was very surprised by because of its ideology toward different time values. In the 1990's, modest, but shy high-school student David (Tobey Maguire) is a fan of the fictional 1950's TV Sitcom, "Pleasantville". His sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), is not a fan of the show and would rather watch a concert on MTV instead. One night, David is hinted that a "Pleasantville" marathon is coming on in 20 minutes. But, Jennifer wants to watch the concert that she was waiting for on MTV. In the middle of the scuffle, the TV remote control breaks. An strange and old TV repairman, (Don Knotts) stops by and gives David a very awkward, but very special TV remote control. After the TV repair leaves, the fighting continues and as the fighting goes on, the TV remote control transports both David and Jennifer into "Pleasantville" itself. Instead of being Jennifer and David, they are both children of "Pleasantville" parents George (William H. Macy) and Betty (Joan Allen). At first, the siblings decide to play along as the "Pleasantville" children, Bud and Mary Sue. In the dear old town of Pleasantville, everything is calm. Everything is utopia. But, that's about to change. Soon enough, the world of this peaceful town starts to change for the better. First, Jennifer goes on a date with Skip (Paul Walker) and then goes on to make love to him. That, of course, is the introduction to sex in "Pleasantville". In another scenario, Bud introduces books to the teens of the town and in another scene, Mr. Johnson (Jeff Daniels), starts to paint provocative paintings, especially one particular painting involving a nude painting of Betty. After social issues starts to take its toll on Pleasantville, the entire town and citizens starts to turn into Technicolor. The community is split up between people who are black and white and those that are Technicolor. The mayor of Pleasantville, (J.T. Walsh, in his final film role), decides to create a Plesantville code of conduct that somewhat mirrors the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's. It seems that the reason why everyone is turning colors is because of emotions. With that being said, Plesantville doesn't have to be pleasant after all.

The movie was directed by Gary Ross, who also worked on previous movies like Big and Dave. This is particularly his best work since the two. The interesting ideas that surrounds this movie is the difference in time values between the 1950's and the 1990's. The movie dares us to ask ourselves, "What is our values toward different time eras?". It is a big contrast, yes, but it makes total sense on what certain things have to be like in a community like Plesantville. Back then, Mom always had a freshly cooked meatloaf sitting at the dinner table and Dad always coming to a nice clean house. In this time of age, that's not even presentable. Things have changed over the years in our American social history. And, as we progress toward the future, our values would increasingly differ from our earlier years.

One thing that also stuck out to me is the way the movie pays a great deal of contribution to American television. I was around during 1998, which is the year this movie came out. The only thing is that I was just a baby. But, I can tell that in this world, the only things that people are attracted to are the media and the technology advantages that makes this world so much different that that from the 50's. Another film that have used this kind of ideology is Peter Weir's film, The Truman Show, which was released the same year as Pleasantville. I think that these two films really tells us how far we come from a world of both entertainment values and social values.

The movie is very well photographed by John Lindley and it creates a Technicolor world of imagination and fantasy. The special effects are marvelous and it works mostly because it blends with the storyline, telling us how this peaceful town get turned into a understandable environment. Even as upcoming movie stars, Tobey Magiure and Reese Witherspoon bring out the charm and humor of their characters and make them into the heroes of Pleasantville. They are smart enough to make this town into understanding their own values toward life and society. Even with that being said, the movie create a sense of unpredictability.

Plesantville is a funny, smart and charming fantasy that creates a world full of imagination and wonder. Its look and photography paints a elaborate storyline that moves a certain pace with humor. At first, I didn't know if I like this movie because I have heard of it before. Well, I like it a lot and I do think it's one of the best films of 1998. ★★★★ 4 stars.

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