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Pleasantville (1998)

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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
1,604 ( 345)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tobey Maguire ... David
Reese Witherspoon ... Jennifer
William H. Macy ... George Parker
Joan Allen ... Betty Parker
Jeff Daniels ... Bill Johnson
J.T. Walsh ... Big Bob
Don Knotts ... TV Repairman
Marley Shelton ... Margaret Henderson
Jane Kaczmarek ... David's Mom
Giuseppe Andrews ... Howard
Jenny Lewis ... Christin
Marissa Ribisi ... Kimmy
Denise Dowse ... Health Teacher
McNally Sagal ... Science Teacher
Paul Morgan Stetler ... College Counselor
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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:

Pleasantville - It's Just Around the Corner 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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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the scene where Bud/David (Tobey Maguire) is driving Margaret (Marley Shelton) to Lover's Lane, he is driving a white 1952 Buick Roadmaster, and the song, "At Last", by Etta James, is playing in the background. Contrary to some claims, this is not the same model year car that Tom Cruise's and Dustin Hoffman's characters drove in Rain Man (1988). See more »

Goofs

On their way to school on the first day, Jennifer/Mary Sue gets angry and pulls her hair clips out - just before Skip pulls up in his car. After Skip drives away her hair is suddenly clipped back again. 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.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Sparkle of Love
Written by Robin Bissell
Performed by Robin Bissell (as Bissell), Bourgeois and Bruno Coon (as Coon)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good tale on values and change that loses it's way occasionally and is quite slow
14 January 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

When a mysterious TV repairman gives David a new remote control both he and his sister gets sucked into an old 50's show called Pleasantville. A first all seems perfect in a cheesy 1950's way - all language is wholesome, everything is black and white, none of the sports team ever miss and nothing is unwholesome. However when David and Jenifer begin to influence those around them they not only change attitudes and behaviour but start to bring colour to the town. The town splits in it's attitude to this change.

This is a very gentle comedy but with a hint of a moral about it. It starts out with `once upon a time' and that's quite apt in that it is a fable with a moral in the way many fairy tales are. At the start it's all quite small and the film almost shows the changes as bad and something that has comedy value, however later the changes are shown as something that should be embraced rather than feared. Then those who fear change and expression are shown to be wrong. It's all quite clever - the only problem to me was that the message felt a bit muddled and could have been a bit clearer - but then maybe that's the point, we learn our own lessons from it.

The effects are excellent throughout - colour creeps in in some objects and people to great effect. It's very well done and never seems unnatural. As a metaphor for change or lost innocence it gets a bit tired but for most it's very effective as a way of seeing people's true feelings come out.

The cast are great - Maguire and Witherspoon are both good (yes, even Witherspoon!), but the real strength comes from the adult support cast. Daniels gives a great understated role, it's not his best as he plays it a little too much like a wounded deer at times but he's still very good. Allen is the strongest as she has to carry much of the story with Macy who it goes without saying is superb - they share some very emotionally charged scenes together. It's always a pleasure to see the late J.T. Walsh in anything and here he is good in a comparatively minor role.

Overall this is a very enjoyable film that is very thoughtful and easily overcomes it's slow pace and slight lack of total clarity.


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