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Pleasantville (1998)

Cast: Tobey Maguire, Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, more...
Director: Gary Ross, Gary Ross
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Line Home Video
Genre: Comedies
Running Time: 124 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Gary Ross, Oscar nominated for his Dave and Big screenplays, made his directorial debut with this comedy. The cheerful '50s TV sitcom "Pleasantville" is revived in the '90s for a loyal cable audience. One devoted fan is shy suburban teen David Wagner (Tobey Maguire), who has an almost obsessive interest in the series. Living with his divorced mother (Jane Kaczmarek), David sometimes has disputes with his ultra-hip twin sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon). She wants to watch MTV just when a Pleasantville marathon is about to begin. They struggle over the remote control, and it breaks. A strange TV repairman (Don Knotts) supplies their new remote, a potent high-tech device which zaps David and Jennifer inside Pleasantville, where their new sitcom parents are businessman George Parker (William H. Macy) and wife Betty (Joan Allen). As "Bud" and "Mary Sue," the teens take up residence in a black-and-white suburbia where sex does not exist and the temperature is always 72 degrees. Life is always pleasant, books have no words, bathrooms have no toilets, married couples sleep in twin beds, the high school basketball team always wins, and nobody ever questions "The Good Life." David revels in Pleasantville's Prozac-styled peacefulness. He fits right in, but Jennifer's 1990s attitude upsets the blandness balance, painting parts of Pleasantville in "living color." Repressed desires surface, cracks appear in the '50s lifestyles, and the Pleasantville populace finds their lives changing in strange, wonderful ways. It's liberating -- but there's also a darker side. This film breaks an all-time record with more than 1700 special effects shots. Shown at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Why April 1958? by WReynolds April 29, 2005 - 11:19 AM PDT
0 out of 5 members found this review helpful
As much as I admire this movie (which is really a time-travel story;
more A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, than Huckleberry
Finn), I'm puzzled by the choice of April, 1958.

A little research suggest 1954 was the watershed year for all the
Pleasantvilles in the U.S.

Googling can help us return to April, 1958.

The covers of Life Magazine for April 1958 featured the following
personalities on the covers: April 7, Sugar Ray Robinson's victory over
Carmen Basilio; April 14, Broadway legend Gwen Verdon; April 21, the
John F. Kennedy family; April 28, Willie Mays and the Giants move to
San Francisco. All in color by the way.

Elvis is drafted March 24, 1958.

1958 is the year of the Ford Edsel. (Actually introduced in the fall of
1957, I believe).

The Donna Reed Show begins, but not until September.

And now for 1954: RCA begins broadcasting in color and markets the
color television more or less as we know it today. (A CBS attempt at TV
color had failed two years earlier.) Brown v. Board of Education
(Topeka, Kansas) established desegregation in public schools as the law
of the land. (Kansas, the home state of Dorothy and Toto, from that
other movie filmed in black and while and color; I mean the Wizard of
Oz.) Father Knows Best begins.

Another interesting confluence of dates: Gary Ross was born in 1956,
the year that most unlike Pleasantville novel Peyton Place was

So I repeat, why April 1958? I had hoped that the director might
comment on the date during his DVD commentary, but when the calendar
appears he says nothing at all.

I was born in 1943. I was a high school sophomore in 1958. I learned to
drive on my father's '56 Buick. I would really like to know why April

beautiful photography, so-so writing by skybrian March 8, 2003 - 8:59 PM PST
3 out of 7 members found this review helpful
There's rather less questioning or reflection about the past than advertised. On the 90's team: Sexual Liberation, Feminism, Art, and Books. For the 50's: white men. One guess as to who wins.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.76)
236 Votes
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