Pleasantville (****) - Who would have thought that 1998 was going to shape into a year with so many wonderful films? Looking at the greater spectrum of crap thatís come out this year and in subsequent years that itís so refreshing to see a film like this come along and take a high-concept script and turn it into something thatís so much more than originally meets the eye.Using elements from Back to the Future, The Truman Show, and the little remembered failed concept comedy Stay Tuned with John Ritter, writer/director Gary Ross has molded an ingenious film into a large-scale entertainment. The first 45 minutes of this film are a lot of fun. Introducing us to the 50ís TV world of Pleasantville sets up a lot of big laughs and not-so-subtle satire. But when the 90ís kids start straying from the script of the past - thatís when it starts turning truly special. The special effects are groundbreaking and are used as they should be - as part of the story - not as simply just a need trick with a computer. And just when you think you know where the film is headed - it takes several sharp turns and develops into a complex commentary on society. You literally watch a form of history happening. Just as history was presented in Forrest Gump, Pleasantville takes us through some of the same territory and you literally watch the 50s transform into the 60s and so on. All the performances are top-notch. Joan Allen and William H. Macy are getting a lot of well-deserved recognition, but I was equally drawn to Jeff Danielsí soda shop character.This is one of the richest scripts of the year and one of the best films. My only quibble with the film was something that happens towards the end of the film. I wonít give it away but I felt it was the only questionable thing in the whole film. I recently saw the film a second time - and Iím no longer questioning the logic. In fact it only made the film even better and it raised my original rating of 3 Ĺ stars up to the full-blown 4. What a great film.