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Pleasantville (1998)



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

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
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 6

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



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 228,975

My Rating

Movie Info

Gary Ross, Oscar nominated for his Dave and Big screenplays, made his directorial debut with this comedy. The cheerful '50s TV sitcom "Pleasantville" is revived in the '90s for a loyal cable audience. One devoted fan is shy suburban teen David Wagner (Tobey Maguire), who has an almost obsessive interest in the series. Living with his divorced mother (Jane Kaczmarek), David sometimes has disputes with his ultra-hip twin sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon). She wants to watch MTV just when a


Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy

Gary Ross

Mar 23, 1999

New Line Cinema - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (100) | 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.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop 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.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Comments (5)
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop 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.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop 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.

August 13, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Great movie for high schoolers and their parents.

December 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
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.

February 23, 2006 Full Review Source: Boulder Weekly

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

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
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.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

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

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Um dos filmes mais inteligentes de 1998.

May 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

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

May 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Overcomes its moralising and occasional pomposity with magical photographic effects.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

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

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
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.

December 17, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC

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

July 9, 2001 Full Review

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.

May 7, 2001 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

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

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

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.
November 1, 2013
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.
January 14, 2013

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!
February 11, 2012
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:
December 28, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. David/Bud: You mean, we're in Pleasantville?
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (13 months ago)
    1. Jennifer/Mary Sue: I'm all pasty.
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (13 months ago)
    1. George: Where's my dinner?
    – Submitted by Moe J (20 months ago)
    1. George: So, what's going to happen now?
    2. Betty: I don't know. Do you know what's going to happen now?
    3. George: [laughs] I don't.
    4. Mr. Johnson: I guess I don't either.
    – Submitted by Tom V (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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