Pleasantville 1998

Pleasantville

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.

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 96

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 230,933

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Movie Info

Impressed by high school student David's (Tobey Maguire) devotion to a 1950s family TV show, a mysterious television repairman (Don Knotts) provides him with a means to escape into the black-and-white program with his sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon). While David initially takes to the simplistic, corny world of the show, Jennifer sets about jolting the characters with doses of reality that unexpectedly bring a little color into their drab existence.

Cast & Crew

Tobey Maguire
David Wagner
Jeff Daniels
Mr. Bill Johnson
Joan Allen
Betty Parker
William H. Macy
George Parker
Reese Witherspoon
Jennifer Wagner
Don Knotts
TV Repairman
Paul Walker
Skip Martin
Marley Shelton
Margaret Henderson
Jane Kaczmarek
David and Jennifer's Mom
Gary Ross
Director
Michael De Luca
Executive Producer
Mary Parent
Executive Producer
Gary Ross
Producer
Jon Kilik
Producer
John Lindley
Cinematographer
William Goldenberg
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for Pleasantville

Critic Reviews for Pleasantville

All Critics (96) | Top Critics (25) | Fresh (82) | Rotten (14)

  • Ingeniously conceived and impressively executed, "Pleasantville" is a provocative, complex and surprisingly anti-nostalgic parable wrapped in the beguiling guise of a commercial high-concept comedy.

    October 18, 2008

    Joe Leydon

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • An ingenious fable, screenwriter Ross's directorial debut playfully spoofs the small-minded lifestyle idealised by 'family values' advocates, and the intolerance and insecurity underlying that ideal.

    June 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

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

    November 6, 2002 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Pleasantville

  • Mar 12, 2016
    https://sylvesterkuo.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/review-pleasantville-the-pleasant-enlightment/
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2013
    Despite being a little formulaic and a tad sappy near the end, Pleasantville is actually a charming and funny directorial debut from screenwriter Gary Ross. It aims to derail the nostalgic thought of the past being "a simpler time" by introducing us David (Tobey Maguire), an awkward teenager who adores Pleasantville, a sitcom from the late 1950s. When he and his sister (Reese Witherspoon) are transported into the TV show by way of a magic remote, they begin to have a profound effect on the town and people of Pleasantville. The movie has a unique visual style that mixes color into black-and-white scenes (which is also an element of the story) to make its point about tolerance and accepting change. The cast is full of familiar faces aside from Maguire and Witherspoon, including William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels, J.T. Walsh, and, in a cleverly cast role, Don Knotts. Jeff Daniels is definitely one the highlights of the movie, and his lovable character provides some of the movie's biggest laughs early on. Reese Witherspoon has some great moments as well, especially when she's trying in vain to flirt with her date in Pleasantville. The movie plays out as a satire of the nostalgic view of a simpler past that many people choose to believe in, and it (not so subtly) reminds the audience that the past had its fair share of problems too. Ultimately Pleasantville is the rare formula-driven Hollywood movie that works, thanks in large part to its interesting visuals and talented cast, and it ends up being a very entertaining movie that's more than the sum of its parts.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • May 05, 2012
    It's not supposed to be anything. These are the wisest words ever said. Beautifully shot, this exactingly euphoric and colorful film.
    Adriel L Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2011
    Pleasantville begins as a neat little Back to the Future-type comedy, but it slowly reveals itself to be a masterful work that tells us the inner workings of like and breaking away from the norm and how changes can be for the best.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer

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