Pleasantville (1998)

PG-13   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Fantasy


Pleasantville (1998) Poster

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


7.5/10
115,650

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  • Joan Allen as Betty Parker
  • Tobey Maguire as David/Bud
  • George & Betty
  • Reese Witherspoon as Jennifer/Mary Sue
  • Jeff Daniels as Bill Johnson
  • William H. Macy as George Parker

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14 January 2002 | bob the moo
Good tale on values and change that loses it's way occasionally and is quite slow
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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