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Pleasantville
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Pleasantville More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

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

8/10
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

7/10
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

7/10
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

7/10
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

9/10
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 ?

3/10
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

10/10
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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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Clever and original

7/10
Author: smatysia (feldene@comcast.net) from Houston
5 March 2013

I have to give Pleasantville credit for cleverness, if not outright originality. It is not like anything I have seen recently. I was vaguely aware of the basic premise when the movie came out, probably from reading a review. It was done very well, the symbolism being out there for everyone, but not beating us over the head with it. When the NO COLOREDS sign appeared in a shop window, I was afraid it was going to get ultra-preachy about race, but they just made the point and moved on. Reese Witherspoon was so beautiful here. Apparently she was about twenty-one when it was filmed, but I could see that certain something, the charisma of a movie star. Joan Allen was also very, very good in a somewhat sad part. I resisted watching this film, but wish I hadn't. It's pretty good!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Sometimes the best parts of ourselves are the ones we leave unexplored

9/10
Author: jalon_dukes from United States
26 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Through the years, unknowingly really, I have developed into a "movie buff". With this being said I find myself intrigued and mesmerized with those "deeper" movies. By that I don't mean the ones about love altogether but one's that are past the mindless "explosions-for-the-sake-of-explosions" movies, but use symbolism to relate to the viewer, as well as conveying new ideas in a more thought-provoking manner. So I must say that I was "pleasantly" surprised with the film.

The film begins with a teenager by the name of David, who let's just say does not have the greatest home life. He copes with this by seeking refuge in the 50's perfect world, portrayed in a sitcom called Pleasantville. His sister, Jennifer's character, however is contrary to his. She is wild and enjoys life's thrills, worries about her appearance, and how she is perceived by those around her. The film really begins to take shape as the two characters are actually thrown into the sitcom. In the sitcom, all the characters are black and white but as David and his sister bring imperfection to their world they begin to see colors appearing on certain people in the sitcom. It seems that things such as sex, violence, sadness, and other feelings that are not "pleasant" trigger the change in color.

However, it is not the corruption that causes color in Pleasantville, rather it symbolizes when people live life to the fullest with a wide array of feelings, not just the good, but the bad too, "all of themselves". So when the black and white characters begin to experience some of these new feelings such as love they begin "really living". The beauty of the color as opposed to black and white also symbolizes the beauty in living life to the fullness. The symbolic reasons as to why people obtain color is perhaps best evident (as well as the 'courtroom scene', which was one of my favorite scenes) when David and his sister are one of the last of the main characters to obtain color. David obtains color when he stands up for his mother. This displays David exercising an unexplored side of his personality, where he generally is content with his life and what is happening. But his stepping out of his comfort zone causes him to live a fuller life. His sister obtains color when she reads a book and genuinely enjoys it. This symbolizes that the best parts of themselves, the parts they never knew existed were there all along and once you experience all of life, its beauty and majesty, then can we live full lives, and in doing so we may have to do things out of the status quo (as Bud and Mr.Johnson did when they painted the mural on the wall, knowing they would be persecuted and ridiculed by other members of the town). Another great use of symbolism is the ending when Jennifer chooses to stay in Pleasantville, while Bud chooses to go back to his imperfect world. This shows that Bud, although wishing he could live in Peasantville originally, realized that a perfect world has no surprises, no newness to it and that he should embrace his imperfect world, as he realized in his time in Pleasantville. He also realized that he should just live and not expect things to be a certain way and that life will be life and it was meant to be lived to the fullest of our potential and embraced. While, his sister though wild at the start and hated Pleasantville originally, found that the best part of her was her thirst for knowledge and new love of literature, something in which she never knew she had in her.

Besides the great theme, and beautiful portrayal through various accounts of symbolism there were also wonderful casting done in this film, as well as wonderful performances particularly by Maguire, and Daniels.

I would highly recommend the film to those in search of the "deeper film"

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