Pleasantville

Watch Pleasantville

"Nothing is as simple as black and white."
  • PG-13
  • 1998
  • 2 hr 4 min
  • 7.5  (122,531)
  • 71

Pleasantville, a 1998 production starring Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as teenage siblings transported into a 1950's situation comedy, is a fantasy movie in the same genre as Groundhog Day and Back to the Future. The great charm of this piece lies in the use of metafictional fantasy, a story about the story, a movie about the movie. In this case, everyone in the town of Pleasantville believes in the perfection and stability of their black and white existence, so when the two kids suddenly become enmeshed in the perfect 1950's family, a conflict is created with only one possible outcome: Life in this town will never be the same. Only the kids know that nothing is real. The story revolves around the power of art to transform a sclerotic culture. As it turns out, the owner of the local sweet shop, played by Jeff Daniels, is a repressed artist. He begins an affair with the kids' TV mother, portrayed by Joan Allen. Spoiler alert: just like in Titanic, we get to see beautiful nude artwork portraying a naked movie star! The point of the story is that people can change (a common Hollywood motif). Of course, this belief challenges the reality that most people never change; but this film sells the idea of change so convincingly that the audience is compelled to suspend its disbelief. We all learn to embrace and accept a new world in the dull village of Pleasantville. It begins with kids getting red lips, from kissing. Then comes the moment when a flower shows color. As people come to themselves, they appear in color, which causes scandal among their black and white brethren. The subtext of the civil rights movement is profound. Through it all, young Maguire plays his role with strength and compassion. He was the fan of the show on TV, in the future, and it was through the repairman, played by Don Knotts, that he received the magical remote control that put him in the picture of his ideal world. Of course, once he was there, he learned that none of that perfect television happiness was real, but he also becomes empowered to produce change, and the possibility of perfect happiness.

Pleasantville
Pleasantville (Trailer 1)
Pleasantville (Trailer 1)

Trailer - 1 min 34 sec

Pleasantville
Pleasantville

Trailer - 2 min 23 sec

Description
Pleasantville, a 1998 production starring Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as teenage siblings transported into a 1950's situation comedy, is a fantasy movie in the same genre as Groundhog Day and Back to the Future. The great charm of this piece lies in the use of metafictional fantasy, a story about the story, a movie about the movie. In this case, everyone in the town of Pleasantville believes in the perfection and stability of their black and white existence, so when the two kids suddenly become enmeshed in the perfect 1950's family, a conflict is created with only one possible outcome: Life in this town will never be the same. Only the kids know that nothing is real.

The story revolves around the power of art to transform a sclerotic culture. As it turns out, the owner of the local sweet shop, played by Jeff Daniels, is a repressed artist. He begins an affair with the kids' TV mother, portrayed by Joan Allen. Spoiler alert: just like in Titanic, we get to see beautiful nude artwork portraying a naked movie star!

The point of the story is that people can change (a common Hollywood motif). Of course, this belief challenges the reality that most people never change; but this film sells the idea of change so convincingly that the audience is compelled to suspend its disbelief. We all learn to embrace and accept a new world in the dull village of Pleasantville. It begins with kids getting red lips, from kissing. Then comes the moment when a flower shows color. As people come to themselves, they appear in color, which causes scandal among their black and white brethren. The subtext of the civil rights movement is profound.

Through it all, young Maguire plays his role with strength and compassion. He was the fan of the show on TV, in the future, and it was through the repairman, played by Don Knotts, that he received the magical remote control that put him in the picture of his ideal world. Of course, once he was there, he learned that none of that perfect television happiness was real, but he also becomes empowered to produce change, and the possibility of perfect happiness.

Pleasantville is a 1998 fantasy movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5 and a MetaScore of 71.

Where to Watch Pleasantville

Pleasantville is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at HBO Max, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Pleasantville for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.

  • Release Date
    1998
  • MPAA Rating
    PG-13
  • Runtime
    2 hr 4 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (122,531)
  • Metascore
    71