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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.74%
Average: 17.04%
Pretty Bad: 5.93%
Total Crap: 1.48%

8 reviews, 87 user ratings

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by Guide2Film

"A blast of color in an otherwise black and white year of film"
4 stars

Proof that a filmmakers only limit is their imagination, and for "Pleasantville" director Gary Ross, apparently there's no limits.


The only thing holding back today's filmmakers are the boundaries of their imagination. October has seen two filmmakers who seemingly know no bounds; first, New Zelander Vincent Ward's tale of love in the afterlife, "What Dreams May Come". Now, Gary Ross has made an absolutely astounding directorial debut with "Pleasantville", a wildly imaginative romp through a golden age long forgotten.

The story centers on a brother and sister(Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon), who are just another pair of 90's kids. David(Maguire), is a bit lower on the social food chain than his sister, Jennifer(Witherspoon). While Jennifer gets ready for her date, David sits down to watch the "Pleasantville" marathon. "Pleasantville" is the stereotypical 50's sitcom; sort of a sister-show to "Leave It To Beaver." It becomes a little obvious and a little sad that it's evident that David may not really care for this show at all or relate to it's characters; you get a sense that it's picture of a comfortable, supportive family gives him comfort as his family falls apart around him.

That night, the two fight over the remote control, then break it against the wall. Suddenly, a TV repairman appears at the door with a brand new one and leaves as quickly as he came in. Alone again, the two fight once more, but this time, they're suddenly sucked into "Pleasantville." It's a wonderfully original concept and holds far more premise and much more possibility than Carrey's "Truman Show", which this will obviously be compared to, although the two films couldn't be any farther apart. I enjoyed this film far more.

When the two children first arrive in the town, everything is black and white. Everything is perfect. The basketball team doesn't miss a shot(one of the film's best moments is when one of the team misses a shot), the weather is always sunny and everyone is perfectly chirpy. As the two children begin to integrate themselves into the environment, things begin changing. People begin to challenge themselves and open themselves up to the world around them; doing things for themselves and challenging their own feelings and ways of living in their society. As they all awake, things begin to pop into color. A red rose, lips, trees, cars, etc. Unfortunately, some people wake up to find that their true selves are angry,violent, unhappy people who are against the changes going on in the town. The visual work here is outstanding; there are some scenes that take you to the purest sense of awe that only really truly wonderful filmmaking can bring to your mind.

There are so very many things that are wonderful about this film. Tobey Maguire has an absolutely outstanding performance as David. We share his sense of wonder and awe as he learns about the world around him as he begins to learn more about his own self. As the parents, Joan Allen and William H. Macy are excellent as always. And Reese Witherspoon is very good as Jennifer. But the film's other really standout performance has to be Jeff Daniels as a Soda Shop owner who begins to paint the town. When David shows him a book of famous artwork, Daniels captures the almost magical awe that makes the film so wonderfully moving. I also really enjoyed the film's direction and score. The black and white/color special effects are outstanding and flawlessly done.

And there are a few things that don't work. The film wraps up a bit too easily. Some of the symbolism with the color is a bit too obvious, but to be honest, it's very hard to critique a film that simply has such an outstanding beauty and soul to it. This is a film that, although you don't really take another look at the days of old, but you take another look at your world when you leave the theater. The fall colors on the trees never seemed so beautiful.

3 1/2

Outstanding special FX mix with a wonderful sense of heart and soul in one of the year's very best.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/28/98 04:08:58
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell nice visuals but very overrated 3 stars
4/28/14 Jeff WIlder Lacks bite as a satire. But entertains and provokes some thought. 4 stars
9/14/09 the dork knight Film has trouble committing between farce and comedy. Feels uneven 4 stars
3/18/09 Dr.Lao Fascinating idea, could have used one more re-wright though 4 stars
8/21/08 Amanda if you feel the need to judge a movie based on face and not on morals, grow up. 5 stars
5/27/07 WalkingDisaster Love this movie! 5 stars
11/19/06 lil not bad 3 stars
3/25/06 krystal You have to see this movie its an olie but a goodie 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Strong message about intolerance and the loss of innocence= one for the ages 5 stars
2/10/05 Jeff Anderson A great looking, richly acted, & dreamy film! ANYWAY, THREE CHEERS FOR DON KNOTTS!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/05/04 DM Really good movie 5 stars
5/16/04 Daveman It's really sad that such an awesome technical triumph doesn't realise its potential. 3 stars
3/27/04 Ghetto Smurf   5 stars
11/24/03 smartmusician good 4 stars
11/22/03 ross hendrick two thumbs up 5 stars
1/05/03 BAM A GREAT FILM 5 stars
11/13/02 Andrew Carden Nostalgic Film Is Also Realistic and Greatly Dramatic. 5 stars
8/09/02 palaboy101 the twilight zone premise put to good use, the ending though was a bit of a letdown. 4 stars
7/16/02 R.W. Welch Imaginative premise undermined by slow pace and preachy tendencies. 3 stars
4/04/02 ellie Funny and clever, Tobey Maguire proves he's one of the best actors around. 5 stars
2/08/02 Meredith Harshaw Moving at first but silly on further reflection. 2 stars
2/02/02 kinkykaty Brilliant film,loved Jeff daniels sweet,naive role most of all. 5 stars
11/18/01 Jim Amazing satire with a lot on its mind -- maybe TOO much, but most movies have too little! 5 stars
9/23/01 Matthew Bartley Great film.It stands up to so many repeat viewings 5 stars
8/03/01 Elvisfan It was all right, a little bit much by the end 4 stars
7/17/01 The Hamburgler THE TOXIC BUTTHOLE WILL PREVAIL!!!!! 5 stars
7/07/01 Dom Corleone superb 5 stars
4/14/01 LiL Cool film Reese and Toby rock! 5 stars
3/29/01 Joel Great movie! 5 stars
12/17/00 The Evil Penguin I agree with Ionicera 3 stars
6/13/00 danilo starts off good -- but gets VERY boring in the end 3 stars
3/10/00 David Rogers I didn't know what was going on! 2 stars
3/01/00 Ionicera interesting message that was stretched past its limits and spoon fed to the audience 3 stars
2/18/00 Richard Wright Decent special effects wasted on a sentimental slop of a film.The last 30 mins suck esp. 2 stars
2/17/00 Starla EXCELLENT! A strikingly memorable film, everyone should see it-now! 5 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski Pasted a cheesy smile on my face for hours. Reminds me of my own neighborhood. :-) 5 stars
12/27/99 Malini Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon were great in this cool in a way 50s film! 5 stars
12/15/99 Paul Extremely funny and witty with drama mixed it. Not to be missed 5 stars
10/30/99 Bozo enjoyed it very much but it could have been better 4 stars
8/14/99 Marshy Got rave reviews but still underrated... See it! Great movie! 5 stars
7/28/99 Matthew Bartley Brilliant 5 stars
6/23/99 Tristynn I just don't understand the hype.. not that great of a movie.. 3 stars
4/30/99 Matthew Bartley Brilliant cast,stunning effects. Top marks for this one! 5 stars
4/06/99 Michael Grimm masturbation scene ruled!!! 4 stars
3/09/99 Wolfy316 A truly wonderful film, telling a moral tale with being overly moralistic. 5 stars
3/08/99 CanadianChica Going into this movie, i was thinking fun- going out, i was thinking...awesome!!!!!! 5 stars
3/05/99 stuck in lilydale Did anyone else think this was one of the most annoyingly pleasant films ever made? 3 stars
1/24/99 donkey_dew More special effect shots than Titanic, Armageddon, and Jurrasic Park combined? Fucking aye 5 stars
1/12/99 Miss Scarlett Ok, the bathtub scene? 'Nuff said. 2 stars
1/12/99 demon_shredder Not bad...not too bad at all. 5 stars
1/10/99 Diogenesnutz This movie was really annoying. I don't know what else to say. 2 stars
1/05/99 JLB Derivative, too many mixed metaphors, pure yuck, but kinda nice visually 3 stars
12/31/98 Todd Great - though a bit preachy at the end 4 stars
12/18/98 Edward The Great Beyond 5 stars
12/16/98 A Gen Xer I thought it was spot-on. My black n' white dad didn't like. Go figure... 4 stars
12/10/98 Bryan Technical wizardry 4 stars
12/06/98 Mr Showbiz A flawed but beguiling directional debut. 4 stars
12/03/98 Kirgo .......... 5 stars
11/30/98 Bill C. A nostalgic look back at the innocent 50's 5 stars
11/25/98 John Maybe intensify the dark side/more impact! 4 stars
11/25/98 Brimley Sentiments for the Gen-X age- I'd take the less confusing Frank Capra any day 1 stars
11/22/98 Bic W Should be called Dullsville - neat technical tricks, but not worth a full length film 2 stars
11/21/98 Craig Big Eagle This movie is just great. Makes you think a little...even if your a brainless amoeba 5 stars
11/20/98 evil buffy better than i thought i would be. nice effects but issues too. 4 stars
11/20/98 Jumbles Very enjoyable film of ideas, but a bit slow and heavy-handed in spots. 4 stars
11/12/98 Tracy incredible! Makes me want to have sex.... 5 stars
11/11/98 JC Kick-ass! 5 stars
11/09/98 Spice come on baby lets get in technicolor! 4 stars
11/06/98 David Torpey Unusual movie. Worth the ticket. 5 stars
11/04/98 The Graduate Gorgeous visuals, great characters. Too bad the trailer gives 90% of the plot away. 4 stars
11/03/98 grunter Doesn't live up to the hype, has NO CHANCE of winning an Oscar fanboy geeks!! 3 stars
10/29/98 dana Yow! 5 stars
10/29/98 Phil Scroggs Moderately entertaining; cool effects. 4 stars
10/28/98 Milhouse Faqw What a great movie! It had a great plot, script and special effects! Bravo! 5 stars
10/27/98 Paige Blackheart I laughed, I cried, I loved it! 5 stars
10/27/98 Blake This movie sucked 2 stars
10/27/98 i8bozo props to my co-workers for a job well done 5 stars
10/26/98 Gamma Outstanding Performances all around. Visual Effects A++. Terrific story. All Great! 5 stars
10/25/98 Negative Creep Its DON KNOTTS! And He's FUNNY! Someone Get this Man Some WORK! Oh yeah movie was a'ight ;) 4 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool I really feel this is the film to watch this year. Pleasantville is a worthwhile movie. 5 stars
10/01/98 katherine great story, and pretty funny. 4 stars
9/29/98 brian Amazing! More like Back to the Future then Truman Show! 5 stars
8/30/98 {{{OZ}}} Teenagers find themselves stuck in a 50's sitcom. Works really well, a great film. 5 stars
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  23-Oct-1998 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-Jun-2004



Directed by
  Gary Ross

Written by
  Gary Ross

  Jeff Daniels
  Don Knotts
  William H. Macy
  Reese Witherspoon
  Tobey Maguire
  J.T. Walsh

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