Pleasantville - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pleasantville Reviews

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½ October 17, 2016
Love the switch between color and b+w. Touching movie with deeper messages about censorship and fear of the unknown or even change.
½ October 16, 2016
Pleasantville is a 1998 comedy, drama, science fiction & fantasy directed and written by Gary Ross. The film stars Tobey Maguire (David/ Bud Parker), Reese Witherspoon (Jennifer/Mary Sue), Jeff Daniels (Bill Johnson), Joan Allen (Betty Parker), William H. Macy (George Parker), and J. T. Walsh (Big Bob) with supporting roles from Don Knotts (TV Repair guy), Paul Walker (Skip Martin), and Jane Kaczmarek (David's Mother). Pleasantville was a great movie because it showed social changes using color as the characters experienced new changes in the way they see life.
The film is about two siblings who magically get inside a 1950s black and white television sitcom called Pleasantville through a remote control. The sitcom shows a perfect community where the firefighter only saves cats from the trees, the weather is always perfect, and the basketball team never misses a shot. In Pleasantville, both David and Jennifer are forced to take on the roles of Bud and Mary-Sue. But as they try to play their roles, their presence soon influences drastic changes. The people of Pleasantville discover art, books, music, and freedom. As new colors start to spread through the town, this change is not accepted by the Mayor and the black and white citizens of the town.
Pleasantville was a place of innocence and a perfect world. Through the usage of color, the first major social issue was the discovery of sex. When Skip Martin takes Jennifer to the Lover's lane for a romantic time and hand holding. Jennifer takes control and has sex with Skip Martin- a concept unknown to everyone in Pleasantville. Joe Leydon observes that, "At first, only flowers reveal their natural colors. But then the virus starts to spread, and soon some of the other sexually awakened teens blossom with vibrant flesh tones." (Leydon) Slowly, Pleasantville begins changing from black and white to color, starting from flowers, cars, and fruits to people's faces who experience new emotions. This color change is believed to be an act of sin by the mayor and the rest of the black and white citizens of Pleasantville. This social change represents how most of the cultures and religions view sex today. Many religious people frown up the movie starting from this scene because they think it promotes sexual behavior. Some religions and its people with a deeper understanding of faith look beyond this issue and discover the sociological meaning. This scene, the first colored rose, and all the following color changes develop the idea that the black and white society is becoming colorized. It opens a door to happiness and freedom.
Another issue in Pleasantville was Feminism. Betty Parker is a perfect 1950s housewife who cooks and cleans every day. Betty also has a secret relationship with the soda shop owner Bill Johnson which causes problems in her marriage with George. She wants to change, but she feels forced by social expectations to disguise her true self because she is afraid she will get frowned upon by the rest of the town for being different than other housewives. She soon realizes that change is good and that accepting it is the right thing to do and shows her true self to her husband. When George finds out about her color change he says, "Now you listen to me. You're coming to this meeting. You're going to put on some makeup. You're going to be home at six o'clock every night, and you're going to have dinner ready on this table." (Macy). Betty smiles at him kindly and reply's "No, I'm not, sweetie." (Allen). This is a very powerful scene from the movie because Betty refuses to obey her husband and tells him what she is really thinking for the very first time. Feminism has been a great issue since 1848, and this movie shows how hard it is for a woman, in this case, Betty, to come out of her shell and express her true self.
Another major social change happens when Bud Parker and Bill Johnson are sent to trial for painting banned drawing using banned colors on the side of the buildings. This is Pleasantville's first trial ever and represents the social issue of racism, colored people vs. non-colored people. When Big Bob, the mayor, says that this behavior needs to stop, Bud Parker replies with, "That's just the point! It can't stop at once, because it's in you, and you can't stop something that's inside you."(Parker). Then he proceeds to convince his dad, George Parker, that these emotions are real by saying, "I know you miss her, I mean, you told me you did. But maybe it's not just the cooking or the cleaning that you miss. Maybe it's something else. Maybe you can't even describe it. Maybe you only know it when it's gone. Maybe it's like there's a whole piece of you that's missing, too. Look at her, Dad. Doesn't she look pretty like that? Doesn't she look just as beautiful as the first time you met her? Do you really want her back the way she was? Doesn't she look wonderful? Now, don't you wish you could tell her that?" (Parker) Throughout history, there has always been a problem between non-colored and colored people. This trial scene represented how hard it was to convince people to accept the change. When the non-colored people see the nude painting of Betty Parker on the window of Bill Johnsons soda shop, they start a riot against the colored people. Non-colored people destroy the shops, burn the books, and harass the colored people in the street. As the people gain more color, the mayor closes the lover's lane and the library, bans certain genre of music, or using paint other than black, white, or gray. In protest, Bud Parker and Bill Johnson paint a colorful mural on a wall of all the things wrong with the town. When they go trial in front of the people, Bud defend their actions, and convinces people there are much more feelings inside of them if they just let go. He also eventually stirs enough anger in Big Bob that even he becomes colored as well. By the time the trial is over, mayor, and the entire town and non-colored people, gain color, and this ends the color segregation.
Some may say Jennifer should have gone back home with David to challenge and make herself a better person back home because she is the one who ruined a perfect town. This claim carries little weight, however, given Joe Leydon's statement that, "Pleasantville is a place where the locals skirt perilously close to fascism when their way of life is threatened. But that way of life may have much to offer: The longer Jennifer stays, the more she grows as an individual - she even starts to read books - and the less she feels the need to play the role of a hip and promiscuous '90s teen." (Leydon) Jennifer was an outgoing and shallow teenage who did not care about school or education. Jennifer decision to stay in Pleasantville showed a great change in her character compared to the beginning of the movie. Pleasantville changed her views on how she perceived the real world and her place in it. Jennifer stayed to finish her education, while David used the remote control to return to the real world to his mom with new knowledge. It shows that their trip to Pleasantville turned out to be for the better after all.
Of course, many will probably disagree with the assertion that the new found freedom in Pleasantville will help the characters grow and experience new things instead of the same old perfect routine. Some might even suggest, for example, Peter T Chattaway, says, "In the end, the characters have no clear idea what to do with their freedom, but they look forward to their directionless futures with wonder nonetheless. Why they should do so is puzzling." (Chattaway). The Pleasantville changed, people were introduced to new feelings and color. They found new information, music, and art. The people were happier, they experienced new emotions, new words, a whole new world outside of Pleasantville. Even if they don't know what to do with the new found freedom, everything is so much better in color.
Pleasantville is a must watch because it is a great comedy and it hit important social problems discussed above using color change theme. "There are some places ... that the road doesn't go in a circle. There are some places where the road keeps going." (Maguire). There are some movies that are forgotten in a month but there some, like Pleasantville, that make one see the world in a different light.
October 16, 2016
What a great movie! The creative special affects and the satirical story make it very 'pleasant' to watch! LOVED IT!!
October 7, 2016
Lighthearted humor, profound message.
½ October 7, 2016
Incredible production values. Tobey Maquire holds everything together. Half an hour too long. Movie's premise not deep enough for 2 hours. Maybe it (the premise) needed to be expanded. David (Bud) hasn't come back to a better situation at the end. Why didn't I get emotionally involved with it all? There is confusion about what the coloration means - If it had a clearer meaning behind it, the coloration would have been more effective.
October 1, 2016
A perfect blend of fantasy, comedy and drama. Pleasantville works admirably as a satire, a coming of age story and a message deliverer that hits right in the hearts and minds of any viewer. An astounding feast for the eyes, an important message for our daily routine and a resonant story for the soul, definitely one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.
September 18, 2016
just watched it again. truly one of the best movies. I love it.
September 10, 2016
Pleasantville (1998)
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen,William H. Macy, J.T Walsh,Reese Witherspoon,Don Knotts,Paul Walker, and Marley Shelton
Written,Produced&Directed By:Gary Ross
Nothing is as a simple as black&white
Is everything pleasant in your life? Are you always happy? Or are you like me when nothing ever goes your way? If the answer to the first two questions are no and the third one yes then you should watch this film. You should know that the film references some cult black and whit television but I don't know which. But this film is going to hit with it's message and it lasts. That hope is still in the world even if you change.
In Pleasantville David is young man in high school who watches Tv times Pleasantville and has watched every single episode and is going to watch the marathon while answering the questions. And he has a crush on a girl in school but doesn't have the courage to ask her out. His sister on the other hand is a fad girl who hangs out with her friends and is trying to make a date with the hottest guy in school. But everything changes when a Tv repairman comes at their door and gives them a new remote. He starts asking David questions about Pleasantville, when the repairman leaves David and his sister start arguing over the Tv again and they pull the remote and it sends them to Pleasantville, where they begin to discover something in themselves and the town.
You will appreciate this film more if you do what I did and go in to it knowing very little. It will be the greatest joy you will have with this film. You might like it if your a self-effacing person because nothing ever goes your way,if you just want a good laugh or if you just want to smile after a bad day.Because it has some memorable characters played by wonderful actors.
Tobey Maguire plays David who once he goes into the world of Pleasantville must become Bud and sticks with that name because he is changing. He gives an amazing performance, Tobey Maguire notably does when he plays characters similar to these. This is the best performance I've seen from Reese Witherspoon who plays David/Bud's sister Jenifer/Mary Sue, Her character's always spice things up to her taste, it makes Maguire's characters eventually play along in his own way. Joan Allen(who's work I've never seen)plays Betty the mother of the television characters Bud and Mary Sue. Her and Reese Witherspoon share one of my favorite sequences in the film. Marly Shelton plays Margaret who gives cookies to one of the characters from the Tv world but decides to go with the change that she's happening around her. They all feel something in their guts these characters and that's the best thing about them they don't know what to do, they would usually feel scared of getting out of their comfort zone but they have the courage to do so.
The film has great cinematography, it's the best looking even when it's in black and white.
Plesantville is one of the best films you will ever see,it looks beautiful,has memorable characters with knock out performances. It's well shot too, Plesantville is a pleasant five out of five.
½ August 28, 2016
One of the most wonderful, imaginative and original american films of 90s
June 18, 2016
it's an ok movie 2 90's teenagers being stuck in 50's tv show and then colorful changing started to happen afterwards
May 30, 2016
Quite the beautiful film that could be near perfect if not for the problem that is the "real world" in the movie. The whole bookend structure never worked well for me.
May 20, 2016
Not what I expected. Starts out with modern kids transported into a 1950s a sitcom world, teasing the era, slowly morphs into a parable with some depth. Apart from a lull in act 3 (which I understand is probably deliberate to emphasize the uncertainty of the future, as I asked myself "how could this end?"), the effects visually and emotionally are surprisingly good.
May 19, 2016
One of my all time favorites
May 19, 2016
This retro comedy is pleasant to look at and oftentimes very funny, but "Pleasantville" is also a film with an, although interesting, very confused concept. Ross could be trying to convey several themes here, but the majority of them tend to go back on themselves. This whole movie is a paradox, one that clumsily promotes progressive ideas and tries to state that conservative values lead to a lack of individuality and, even worse, fascism... as I said, a paradox. I was very young when this film was released aside other equally progressive, but far more wholesome films like "Fight Club" and "American Beauty" and my parents weren't even alive in the days of Pleasantville, but, seeing the results of progressive movements in the year 2016, it seems to me like the slope really was slippery and the areas seems to be gray once again.
May 15, 2016
I found it to have a unique plot that u didnt know where it was going. An interesting concept that gets better as it goes along with the leave it to beaver era of tv becoming symbolical of segregation and censorship that plagued that time beneath an all white veneer. Some of the script is dated now and i still cant stand tobey mcguire's acting. That being said i thought the ending was lame with the whole who knows what will happen next? Line repeated over n over instead of a real conclusion.
May 10, 2016
not a lot of movies are this good the second time around :) really enjoyed rewatching it.
½ May 8, 2016
A great movie, at its core, makes you think. And this movie does just that. The juxtaposition of the black/white to color is wonderful, and the messages that get painted in this film is wonderful. One of my favorite Tobey Maguire performances (and there's nothing wrong with Reese in a poodle skirt either-she does a fantastic job). Great movie.
½ May 8, 2016
The movie is good. I appreciated how the colored people (and the colored diner) were treated comparably to how the nazis treated the jews in WWII. I also appreciated the shots borrowed from the court scene in the adaption of To Kill A Mockingbird. The first 1/3 of the film is bland and boring, but it fits in with the themes of the film. I would definitely recommend.
May 6, 2016
Pleasantville gives off a comforting, nice element that soon turns a little more into a social message as it goes on - this is great in a sense, but the mood of the film is drastically differing between prejudice storylines and replicating 1950s culture, sticking to the original plot.
Two bickering siblings, David and Jennifer, are given a high tech remote that sucks them into the world of David's favorite 1950s sitcom Pleasantville. Unable to escape for weeks on end, they tamper with some of the classic episodes and make the dreary black and white repetitive nature of Pleasantville more uplifting and colorful, literally. As technicolor slowly begins to spread into the once all black and white town, prejudice arises amongst a corrupt local government and David and Jennifer strive to fix Pleasantville's problems before returning home.
Pleasantville's plot always seemed interesting to me before I watched it and heard about it, and it really is interesting. Comparative to that of fellow late 90s fun on 50s culture film Blast from the Past, its original storyline of getting back home and not tampering too much with original episode storylines is overriden by the uprising of technicolor in Pleasantville, a clearly personal but still very inventive social statement. The charming nature of Pleasantville is soon reminded that even in this seemingly perfect realm, trouble and gloom still resides - which is great, but affects the film's atmosphere in its final hour. Pleasantville isn't possible without a great story, and it mainly delivered on that achievement - there were a lot of missed opportunities floating around for more entertaining plot turns. The performances are good, nothing to run home about but they're fine. Some characters are very likable - specifically, I found Jeff Daniels' character to be great - and others achieve at being loathsome. Pleasantville is good and gives a lot of inventive, groundbreaking and clever ideas for a story, but it tends to flipflop on that same element.
May 5, 2016
"Pleasantville" is a fascinating social commentary that is as visually beautiful as it is introspective. This film is best known for its strategic use of colors in a black and white world and has become an iconic piece of film history. The contrast is stunning, like "Sin City" without the violence and graphic imagery. Various films have used this technique to be symbolic but there has never been a story that so effectively integrated the element into its plot. The vivid colors that fill the screen are complimented by brilliant cinematography. John Lindley transports us to this "Leave it to Beaver" world through unique camera angles and memorable shots. The entire film is an impressive work of art and I would have given it the Oscar for Best Art Direction over "Shakespeare in Love" any day. Unfortunately, the overt sexuality in the film negates the ability for families to watch this fascinating story together. I understand that this is a story of self-discovery and that is how some of the characters reach the enlightenment of who they really are, but the overemphasis on sexuality clouds the moral of the story. The film could have been easily been edited at a PG-level by implying things instead of using graphic noises; still, it is tame compared to the teen comedies of today. This film has a great cast, from the impeccable acting chops of William H. Macy to the scheming J.T. Walsh in his final film. Other big names include Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, and a nod to classic television with Don Knotts. The crew did a great job of finding an entire cast that has that classic 1950's look, and casting twenty-somethings like Marley Shelton and a young Paul Walker that look like teenagers. Reese Witherspoon's performance was the best in the film and it really pushed her into the Hollywood spotlight, while Tobey Maguire's performance made me realize that I didn't even like his acting in his younger years. One of the film's highlights is the memorable theme by Randy Newman that captures the mystery and wonder of this transforming utopia. Newman's Oscar-nominated score works well alongside classics that transport us back to the late 50's, including "At Last" by Etta James, "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck, "So What" by Miles Davis, and Fiona Apple's cover of "Across the Universe." I can't believe that this film is almost 20 years old. Even in this time of unprecedented digital effects, "Pleasantville" still manages to take my breath away as the vivid colors of enlightenment contrast its black and white world.
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