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Pleasantville (1998)


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 84
Fresh: 72
Rotten: 12

Critics Consensus: Filled with lighthearted humor, timely social commentary, and dazzling visuals, Pleasantville is an artful blend of subversive satire and well-executed Hollywood formula.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 22
Fresh: 16
Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: Filled with lighthearted humor, timely social commentary, and dazzling visuals, Pleasantville is an artful blend of subversive satire and well-executed Hollywood formula.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 229,441



Movie Info

David Wagner is a Nineties kid with a Fifties addiction. He's hooked on reruns of a classic television show called "Pleasantville," set in a simple place where everyone is swell and perky, "confrontation" is a dirty word and life is pleasingly pleasant. Addicted to this utopian world, David immerses himself in "Pleasantville" as an innocent escape from the trouble-plagued real world that he must share with his ultra-hip, totally popular twin sister, Jennifer. But one evening, life takes a … More

PG-13 (for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language)
Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Gary Ross
In Theaters:
Mar 23, 1999
New Line Cinema - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Pleasantville

All Critics (101) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (12) | DVD (24)

The lighthearted fable Pleasantville takes some pointed swipes at the make-believe world of 1950s TV -- and none too soon.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

There's a terrific idea at the heart of Pleasantville, and it's a shame that its creator, Big screenwriter Gary Ross, can't figure where to take it.

Full Review… | June 18, 2002
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Endearing it definitely is, so much so that it's easy to overlook the simplicity, and the sly confidence trick that gets played on us.

Full Review… | April 12, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Ends up having more on its mind than it can successfully handle.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

One of the year's best and most original films!

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Funny for about half an hour, Pleasantville thereafter becomes an increasingly lugubrious, ultimately exasperating mix of technological wonder and ideological idiocy.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Village Voice
Top Critic

Gary Ross (Big, Dave) makes an impressive directing debut with this charming, nicely executed fable, which contrasts values of the 1950s with those of the 1990s.

Full Review… | August 13, 2011

Great movie for high schoolers and their parents.

Full Review… | December 27, 2010
Common Sense Media

Though Ross works in some heavy-handed strokes, his portrait of stodgy Eisenhower America dazzles with some of the loveliest imagery of any 1990s film.

Full Review… | February 23, 2006

Someday, maybe someday soon, someone in Hollywood is going to make a genuinely great movie about television as a metaphor for America.

Full Review… | January 29, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Hollywood satire is not usually this enjoyable: Both savage and silly, Pleasantville is an absolute blast.

April 13, 2004
Jam! Movies

This is an exquisite, timely film. It's nice to know that occasionally, even Hollywood does something right.

Full Review… | December 8, 2002
Film Threat

Ross has come up with one of the best, most subversive, and definitely one of the most memorable films of the year.

Full Review… | December 8, 2002
Film Threat

Um dos filmes mais inteligentes de 1998.

Full Review… | May 31, 2002
Cinema em Cena

For a movie that makes such a big deal about color, Pleasantville is awfully black and white.

Full Review… | May 8, 2002
Decent Films Guide

Overcomes its moralising and occasional pomposity with magical photographic effects.

Full Review… | March 3, 2002
Sight and Sound

An innovative and ethically provocative film about free spirits and those who would keep them down.

Full Review… | March 3, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

One of the few recent Hollywood films out there that has used new digital technology to truly engage the viewer, and make possible a thoughtful story.

Full Review… | December 17, 2001

An inverted fish out of water tale - like taking a lion raised by sheep & putting it in the middle of the savannah.

Full Review… | July 9, 2001

Maybe it stretches the point a little far, but it's still entertaining to sit through, beautiful to look at, and stimulating to think about.

Full Review… | May 7, 2001
Movie Metropolis

Macy and Allen prove once again why they are deserving of their respective places on the acting pantheon.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Pleasantville


It's not supposed to be anything. These are the wisest words ever said. Beautifully shot, this exactingly euphoric and colorful film.

Adriel Lim
Adriel Lim

Super Reviewer


Often heavy handed though nonetheless stimulating tale of the death (and she's not coming back, baby) of the American postwar "let's make nice cause its swell, gosh darnit" 50's mentality/fantasy. I like it, despite the browbeating, especially Joan Allen as Beaver Cleaver's mom unleashed.

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

?"Pleasantville" is everything you can ask for from a movie, and more. As a nerdy kids black and white television show becomes his life, he and his sister are sucked into the universe of 1958. In a perfect world, where change is unheard of, sex is incomprehensible, and colour is absent, Bud (Tobey Maguire) and his sister (Reese Witherspoon) learn that change can be the most beautiful thing. In this very odd world, many questions will be dying to be answered, and while most of them are, it is the true beauty that keeps you guessing when the film concludes. Everything about this film represents perfection. Paying a homage to classic paintings and classic television acting, this film is one of the best of the 90's. The emotions are endlessly engaging, the witty comedy is hilarious, the story is magnificent, and the cast is fantastic. "Pleasantville" is not one to be missed!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

Above all other things, this film is imaginatively artistic. The film intertwines black-and-white with color photography, creating more than just a dazzling visuality. On top of that, screenwriter Gary Ross manages to tie this artistic aspect in with the film's own plot: the characters actually see each other in grayscale, and there is even a humorously literal discrimination of coloreds (meaning people who appear in colors other than black, white, or gray), which adds even more spice to the concept. Remember the scene from SCHINDLER'S LIST that emphasized a little girl's red coat, the only color in the entire film? Imagine if that one scene were extended into a feature-length, much more satirical film. The result would easily be PLEASANTVILLE.

Full Review:

Alexander Diminiano

Super Reviewer

Pleasantville Quotes

You mean, we're in Pleasantville?
– Submitted by Baurushan J (19 months ago)
Jennifer/Mary Sue:
I'm all pasty.
– Submitted by Baurushan J (19 months ago)
Where's my dinner?
– Submitted by Moe J (2 years ago)
So, what's going to happen now?
I don't know. Do you know what's going to happen now?
[laughs] I don't.
Mr. Johnson:
I guess I don't either.
– Submitted by Tom V (2 years ago)

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