I heard about this movie, but I didn't know that it would be THIS good.... (by Eddie C.)
I knew what this film would be about before I rented it, but I'm stunned that it would be THIS good. Nothing against "Saving Private Ryan" or "Shakespeare in Love", but this film should have won Best Picture in 1998 and it was a shame that it wasn't nominated. It's an even bigger injustice that it did not get a nomination for best screenplay or cinematography.In the hands of another writer, this movie could have been made as just a parody of 1950's sitcoms like "Leave It To Beaver" or "Ozzie and Harriet." But this film isn't about <more>
how clichéd those series look decades later. It's about the false nostalgia for a past that never existed. We survived the past and we know that everything turned out all right. Because of this, we selectively choose our memories and weed out the unpleasant ones. That's why the past is sometimes seen as "the good ol' days." Pleasantville does not represent how the 50's actually were but rather an idealization of what people THINK the 50's were---no one had sex, everyone got along swell, and life was fairly easy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and there are many film from that era which show how real people even in suburbia actually lived. This film argues that free will and choice is ESSENTIAL to life and that we should embrace freedom instead of fearing it. It isn't just about making out, but having the OPTION to make out.Another reviewer claimed that this film was an attack on the 50's, but David and Jennifer could very easily have been dumped in the world of "The Brady Bunch", "Gilligan's Island" , or "Batman." But setting "Pleasantville" in a 1950's sitcom allows for the brilliant metaphor of black and white versus color. Black and white photography is a stylized depiction of the universe, but unless you're color blind it's not the way you actually see the universe. When we first see Pleasantville's citizens, all of them are cardboard cut-outs of stereotypes. As they begin to open up and become real people, color seeps into their world. The catalyst seems to be the willingness to experience new sensations and become vulnerable. Jennifer has slept with lot of guys when she was in the normal world, so sex does not change HER into a color character. On the other hand, when she actually finishes a book without pictures for the first time in her life, THEN she becomes colorized. Similarly, David does not bloom into color until he breaks out of his aloofness and defends his "mother." Compare the way he ignores his real mother at the beginning of the film to how he consoles and comforts her at the end to see how much David has changed.I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. There are a lot of films out there that are very entertaining and/or very moving--like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or "Titanic." Movies like "Pleasantville" which challenge the audience and force them to think are very rare, and should be treasured by the discerning filmgoer.
Some critics here are saying the movie takes itself too seriously - but I believe some people are taking it too literally. ... Saying that the topics that are addressed have no impact on society anymore, clearly misses the point. ... The 50s -- or more specifically, 50s TV -- is used as a metaphor, because of the way 50s TV portrayed life in America. ... Thematically, this movie is about "Living Life" to the fullest, whatever that means. More specifically, to live life to the fullest -- to truly feel "alive" -- you need to take the good with the bad. Sweeping things under <more>
the rug and just acting "pleasant" all the time, is no way to live. That's what Tobey McGuire's speech at the end to his "real" mother is all about. Bad things happen, it's part of life. Having passion brings with it positives and negatives -- but suppressing true feelings for the sake of "pleasantness" is an empty life. THAT is the key ... and that "issue" is everlasting to the human condition. Another point: People fear change. This is universal from the start of time until the end of time. The film suggests that changing and growing as a society and as people -- even if scary -- is good. Just because the 50s were used as a metaphor for that, don't believe for a minute this isn't a universal issue that exists today and forever.Another issue common for people critical of this film is the sexual issue. They say that Gary Ross is promoting sexual promiscuity, sex out of wedlock, etc... Again, I believe it misses the point. Is Ross suggesting that premarital sex is OK? Yes, and I'd agree - and I'm sure there's plenty of people who don't agree with that, and that's OK too. But, again, the sex is just part of the theme - used as a high-profile example to making the overall point about "openness" - and not suppressing one's feelings. Note that the Reese Witherspoon character was already promiscuous, and her transformation was actually something completely different.I can't make everyone like this film - I'll just say that, on a personal note, I was so floored by this film, I had to see it again the next day. That had never happened to me before, or since. Ross' commentary goes on to speak of everything I felt about the film when I first saw it. It was great to hear that his reasons for what he did, meshed exactly with how I took it. I had to write him a letter to tell him so - another thing I'd never done before or since.This is not a perfect film. I liked its subtlety, but then the racism correlation, and the censorship stuff, got a bit more overt. The courtroom scene at the end is a bit cliche ... and I also agree with one poster who said that, to make the point about taking the good with the bad, we should've seen a bit more about the consequences of their actions. Those are merely nitpicks in the grand scheme of things. This is a 10 out of 10.
a wonderful many layered experience that put a smile on my face again (by dark one)
i wish i had the ability to put into a 1000 words what this movie impressed upon me. sadly enough, i am a verbose person, inclined to write and write and write, following a train of thought that never ends. however, i shall certainly give it a try, without botching it up. after having viewed this movie, i sat a while in my chair, watching the end credits play and listening to the music as it played along. not until the tape rewinded did i fully realise that i had watched a really good movie again, one that spoke on more levels than the simple obvious ones.if i were to speak of one of the main <more>
things in this movie that are so incredibly important, it's the fact that it speaks about people and society, and the patterns inherent in them. in the beginning, you see reese witherspoon in a normal 90's class situation, following what is a 'normal' situation in that environment. then she is dropped into pleasantville, and what happens? she loses all reference points towards a life that seems right to her; she misses her pattern in life. the first thing that happens is she tries to enforce it again, resulting in the start of the major happenings of the movie, and somewhere along the line, softly swerves away from it and finds another pattern. once she reads a book, and stays put reading in it while she could have gone out to 'do it', you know things have changed.william c. macy shows the same thing when he gets home, and his wife isn't there to greet him, and i could go on for ages to point to this, but i'd be overstepping my boundaries of these 1000 words, and definitely spoil someone elses movie experience. fact is, almost every single storyline in this movie is about change, change brought about because someone is stuck in a pattern and feels something is wrong, or through the self discovery that is inherent in every single one of us. not only that, it also shows how fear of breaking established patterns can bring out the worst, or get the upheaval that the major starts with his 'concerned citizens'. but even beyond all this, all the explanations and thought provoking issues that it brings up, if alone for the beauty of it and for the precious score that is attached, one should at least consider seeing it. i am personally a very jaded person concerning movies, having seen more than probably even a professional movie reviewer has seen taking my age as his career.even with that in mind, i thank my lucky stars for picking this up on a whim and getting a look at something that has taken me in more than most of the movies this year. several of the scenes are priceless, and as someone before commented, the drive through a black and white scenery with coloured blossom weaving through the soft winds will leave you breathless.in short, if you feel like watching a wonderful movie, catch this one and be impressed; try to follow the patterns every character exhibits and think about what the colour means in that sense, how it brings life back, how change is life.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Pleasantville" from the 'Once upon a time' through the film fading to black.The acting was top notch all around, as was the use of special effects; in very few films has colour been used so effectively that it can convey a story seemingly without help from dialogue or music.I can see how some people would perceive it as merely another mouthpiece of liberalism, but I watched it twice, and I only noticed it attacking bigotry and censorship. What was wrong wasn't that these people were living according conservative values, but that they didn't <more>
really choose those values in the first place!I like the fact that the film was bold, and that it made its point as directly as it contrasted the black and white with the splotches of Technicolour. While "Pleasantville" had little subtlety in its allegory, it was, like any good fairytale, beautiful in its simplicity.Nine out of ten
There are some films which seem to come and go and no one ever really seems to notice. With all the big-budget movies out there which are predicable, laden with annoying CGI effects and follow a formula where you know exactly what will happen at all times, 'Pleasantville' is a real breath of fresh air. Yet, for some reason, no one really talks about it even though it's held in high regard seemingly with everyone who's seen it.It's rare that a film's tagline sums it up so well, but you may see on any marketing 'The Truman Show meets Back to the Future.' And <more>
it's hard to put it any better although I saw a hint of 'The Last Action Hero' in the plot, but it's barely noticeable! . Two of today's American teens are - for reasons you'll soon find out - 'beamed' into an old black and white TV show from yesteryear. It's safe to say that things worked differently in the days before cell phones and Instagram. Back then firemen constantly rescued stranded cats from trees, teens holding hands was still a taboo and the most exciting thing the youth of the time could do was hand out the local milkshake bar. Therefore, our two young protagonists played by Tobey Maguire and Reece Witherspoon find it a challenge to blend in with the locals.However, things really start to go wrong when their influence - literally - bring new life to the fictional telly town. Their modern influence slowly starts seeping into the people and environment and the black and white world they've found themselves in starts to become colour. Now, that wouldn't be so bad, but the locals start engaging in - what they consider - to be 'immoral' behaviour which you'd probably find on kids' TV in today's times . What follows is a tale about whether our two teens can actually escape their TV-prison and, what will happen to the residents they leave behind.It's truly one of the most clever - vaguely mainstream - films to come out of Hollywood in recent times and, if you're in the mood for something that doesn't involve superheroes flying around a destroyed U.S. city, then you should definitely watch this one.
Pleasantville is one of the most original movies I've ever seen. It's entertaining from beginning to end and charms the life out of you. The script....I don't know where to begin with the script. It's so imaginative and heart-warming; it's just wonderful. Its containment of sexual curiosity and racial discrimination is absolutely excellent. They are two of the biggest themes here and they are done beautifully. The script is just magical. The visuals are stunning to say the least, the evolvement from color to black and white is masterful. The acting is terrific. MaGuire, <more>
Witherspoon, and Allen in particular deliver great performances. Overall, you must witness this film and everyone should be inspired by the amount of creativity piled here; 10.
A brilliant and vastly underrated cinematic experience (by Isaac5855)
PLEASANTVILLE had to be one of the biggest surprises I've ever had at the movies. This superbly mounted and completely winning fantasy starred Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a contemporary teenage brother and sister who are magically transported into a black and white television show called "Pleasantville", a show similar to "Leave it to Beaver" or "I Love Lucy", where everyone in the town knows each other, where the fire department only saves cats from trees and never put out fires and where there are no pages in the books or toilets in the bathrooms. <more>
Maguire's character is a "Pleasantville" trivia expert so he knows everyone there and everything that's going to happen but sis Witherspoon is a stranger in a strange land whose introduction of 1990's sensibilities to the citizens of this town brings about extraordinary changes. The film is beautifully made with a very smart screenplay and superb performances, the best of which is by Joan Allen, who is luminous as Betty, the mother in the sitcom who is shocked at first but learns to accept the 1990's coming to Pleasantville. Yes, it may borrow from other movies, but there is a freshness and originality to this movie that is most engaging and anytime with Don Knotts is time well spent.
This movie I haven't seen in years & yet I often think about it. It was one of those films you were sad to see end. Beyond just the excellent & original story is all of the brilliant performances by all. In a cast that was excellent all around including Tobey McGuire & Reese Witherspoon before either of them were big stars I have to give special props to Jeff Daniels & Joan Allen. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't think this is an extremely good film. The way all of the characters interact is what makes this such a special film. I honestly don't know how this <more>
didn't make at least twice as much money as it did, because it's that original. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor & watch it & I dare you not to be impressed. I would especially recommend this to fans of 1950's & 60's shows such as "The Andy Griffith Show" & "The Dick Van Dyke show. Have fun & be prepared to be very impressed w/the originality & the tremendous performances by the huge & fabulous cast.
One of the first movies I watched with Tobey Maguire & Reese Witherspoon! (by Lady_Targaryen)
David and Jennifer are a brother and sister of the 90's. They have a terrible relationship with each other and with their parents, who doesn't care very much about them and are always discussing with each other. David loves to watch Pleasantville - a 1950's Black and White soap opera, where everything is perfect and everybody is sweet and polite with each other, what is totally different from the reality that he lives. One day, when they both are alone in their house, they broke the TV remote control in a fight, and a very strange repair man gives David a new remote that is <more>
capable of sending them Jennifer and David to the Pleasantville soap Opera, inside the TV.Trapped in a life of old fashioned values, they both need to live as Mary Sue and Bud to integrate themselves into this 50's life, so different from what they were used. What do they don't know, is the difference they will make to the Pleasantville's society and how this little society will also change them.I watched ''Pleasantville'' for the first time when I was 12, and I recently watched again with 23 years old. Even after one decade, the story continues to be good to me. I like very much the interesting metaphor of getting colored/changing inside, after doing something bold or having a challenge in your life.This film was one of the first I saw with Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon Who would say they would become such famous actors! and I totally recommend to anyone who wants to watch an interesting and different movie.