Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pleasantville (1998) [PG-13] ****



David (Tobey Maguire) and his sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) are high school students, living with their divorced mother in suburban Southern California. Discouraged by the instability in his life, David has taken refuge in a TV sitcom called Pleasantville, set in the unchanging world of 1958 America... in the brief period of tranquility after the end of the Korean War and before the country erupted in the protests of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

With the aid of a mysterious TV repairman (Don Knotts) and his TV remote control, David and Jennifer find themselves magically transported through their TV to black-and-white Pleasantville, where they are accepted as Bud and Mary Sue by their parents (William H. Macy and Joan Allen). David recognizes the damage they could do by introducing any change from what has already been broadcast in Pleasantville TV episodes. Jennifer, however, was never a fan of the sitcom, and decides to amuse herself by introducing her naive, innocent boyfriend Skip (Paul Walker) to the joys of sex.

From this small beginning, like a bite of the apple from the biblical tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Pleasantville begins to shed its innocence and ignorance. Monochrome gives way to brilliant color; there's real rain; the townspeople discover love, sex, passion, hope, curiosity, free will, and the desire for artistic self-expression; however they also discover their fear of change, and with it intolerance, hatred and censorship. A creative masterpiece, written and directed by Gary Ross, with an incredibly talented cast, and a beautiful musical score by Randy Newman, this thought-provoking film is rich in symbolism, and is especially compelling for those with memories of America in the 1950s and 1960s. If you enjoyed Back to the FutureThe HelpPeggy Sue Got Married and A Summer Place, you will probably really enjoy Pleasantville. 

The supporting cast includes Jeff Daniels as Mr. Johnson, owner of Pleasantville's diner, Jane Kaczmarek as David and Jennifer's real-life mom, Marley Shelton as Margaret, and J.T. Walsh as the Mayor.

Labels: comedy, drama, fantasy, Fifties, high school, satire, space-time, teenager
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 71/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=76, viewers=66)
Blu-ray
Pleasantville - At Last

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