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Pleasantville (1998)

Trailer
0:31 | Trailer
Two 1990s teenage siblings find themselves in a 1950s sitcom, where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.

Director:

Gary Ross

Writer:

Gary Ross
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Popularity
1,458 ( 323)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William H. Macy ... George
Joan Allen ... Betty
Natalie Ramsey ... Mary Sue
Kevin Connors ... Bud
Jeff Daniels ... Mr. Johnson
Tobey Maguire ... David
Heather McGill Heather McGill ... Girl in School Yard
Paul Morgan Stetler ... College Counselor
Denise Dowse ... Health Teacher
McNally Sagal ... Science Teacher
Jane Kaczmarek ... David's Mom
Giuseppe Andrews ... Howard
Reese Witherspoon ... Jennifer
Marissa Ribisi ... Kimmy
Jenny Lewis ... Christin
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Storyline

David Wagner is a kid whose mind is stuck in the 1950s. He's addicted to a classic 50's sitcom television show called "Pleasantville". Pleasantville is a simple place, a place where all of its citizens are swell and simple-minded folks, a place where the word "violence", and life outside of Pleasantville, is unbeknownst to its inhabitants; things are perfect down in Pleasantville. One evening, the life of David and his obnoxious sister Jennifer take a bizarre turn when an eccentric repairman hand them a supposed magical remote. After a quarrel between the siblings, they inexplicably zap themselves into the world of "Pleasantville". Now, David and Jennifer must adjust to a 50s lifestyle of repressed desires and considerably different societal values while trying to find their way home. Written by Kyle Perez

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Nothing Is As Simple As Black And White. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William H. Macy and J.T. Walsh appeared in House of Games (1987), Things Change (1988), and The Client (1994). See more »

Goofs

When Mary Sue is with her date at the restaurant and she leaves to go to the ladies room, her hair is styled differently than when she is inside the ladies room. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[David is gazing admiringly at a pretty blonde girl]
David: *Hi*
[chuckles]
David: I mean, Hi. Uh, look, you probably don't think I should be asking you this. I mean, not knowing you well and all? I mean, you know, I, I, I know you, 'cause everybody knows you. I just don't know you technically. Uh, anyhow. Uh, I don't know what you're doing this weekend, but my mom's leaving town, and she's letting me borrow the car.
[...]
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Crazy Credits

The New Line logo plays in complete silence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Spider-Man (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Mr. Blue
Written by DeWayne Blackwell
Performed by Pat Boone
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User Reviews

 
floored
16 February 2003 | by adamw_13See all my reviews

Some critics here are saying the movie takes itself too seriously - but I believe some people are taking it too literally. ... Saying that the topics that are addressed have no impact on society anymore, clearly misses the point. ... The 50s -- or more specifically, 50s TV -- is used as a metaphor, because of the way 50s TV portrayed life in America. ... Thematically, this movie is about "Living Life" to the fullest, whatever that means. More specifically, to live life to the fullest -- to truly feel "alive" -- you need to take the good with the bad. Sweeping things under the rug and just acting "pleasant" all the time, is no way to live. That's what Tobey McGuire's speech at the end to his "real" mother is all about. Bad things happen, it's part of life. Having passion brings with it positives and negatives -- but suppressing true feelings for the sake of "pleasantness" is an empty life. THAT is the key ... and that "issue" is everlasting to the human condition.

Another point: People fear change. This is universal from the start of time until the end of time. The film suggests that changing and growing as a society and as people -- even if scary -- is good. Just because the 50s were used as a metaphor for that, don't believe for a minute this isn't a universal issue that exists today and forever.

Another issue common for people critical of this film is the sexual issue. They say that Gary Ross is promoting sexual promiscuity, sex out of wedlock, etc... Again, I believe it misses the point. Is Ross suggesting that premarital sex is OK? Yes, and I'd agree - and I'm sure there's plenty of people who don't agree with that, and that's OK too. But, again, the sex is just part of the theme - used as a high-profile example to making the overall point about "openness" - and not suppressing one's feelings. Note that the Reese Witherspoon character was already promiscuous, and her transformation was actually something completely different.

I can't make everyone like this film - I'll just say that, on a personal note, I was so floored by this film, I had to see it again the next day. That had never happened to me before, or since. Ross' commentary goes on to speak of everything I felt about the film when I first saw it. It was great to hear that his reasons for what he did, meshed exactly with how I took it. I had to write him a letter to tell him so - another thing I'd never done before or since.

This is not a perfect film. I liked its subtlety, but then the racism correlation, and the censorship stuff, got a bit more overt. The courtroom scene at the end is a bit cliche ... and I also agree with one poster who said that, to make the point about taking the good with the bad, we should've seen a bit more about the consequences of their actions.

Those are merely nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. This is a 10 out of 10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pleasantville See more »

Filming Locations:

Petaluma, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,855,063, 25 October 1998

Gross USA:

$40,584,421

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$49,805,462
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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