Pleasantville (1998)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

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

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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 bizarre twist when a peculiar repairman gives him a strange remote control, which zaps David and his sister straight into Pleasantville. All the repressed desires of life in the Fifties begin to boil up through the people of Pleasantville, changing their lives in strange and wonderful ways that none of them had even dared to dream of, until they were visited by two kids from the real world.
Rating:
PG-13 (for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language)
Genre:
Comedy , Drama , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:

Cast

Tobey Maguire
as David Wagner/Bud Parker
Reese Witherspoon
as Jennifer Wagner/Mary Sue Parker
Joan Allen
as Betty Parker
William H. Macy
as George Parker
Jeff Daniels
as Mr. Johnson
Don Knotts
as Repairman
J.T. Walsh
as Big Bob
Dawn Cody
as Betty Jean
Natalie Ramsey
as Mary Sue
Heather McGill
as Girl in School Yard
Paul Morgan Stetler
as College Counselor
Denise Dowse
as Health Teacher
McNally Sagal
as Science Teacher
Jane Kaczmarek
as David's Mom
Jenny Lewis
as Christin
Kai Lennox
as Mark's Lackey No. 1
Jason Behr
as Mark's Lackey No. 2
Robin Bissell
as Commercial Announcer
Harry Singleton
as Mr. Simpson
John Ganun
as Fireman No. 1
Maggie Lawson
as Lisa Anne
Andrea Taylor
as Peggy Jane
Lela Ivey
as Miss Peters
Jim Patric
as Tommy
Marc Blucas
as Basketball Hero
Jason Maves
as Paper Boy
Gerald Emmerick
as TV Weatherman
Nancy Lenehan
as Marge Jenkins
Jim Antonio
as Ralph
Danny Strong
as Juke Box Boy
Laura Carney
as Bridge Club Lady
Dan Gillies
as Fireman No. 2
Marley Shelton
as Margaret
Adam Carter
as Boy in Soda Shop
David Tom
as Whitey
James Keane
as Police Chief Dan
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Pleasantville

All Critics (94) | Top Critics (24)

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.

Full Review… | October 17, 2008
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.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Pleasantville

½

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

½

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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

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

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