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Pleasantville (1998)

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Two 1990s teenage siblings find themselves in a 1950s sitcom, where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world.

Director:

Gary Ross

Writer:

Gary Ross
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Popularity
1,604 ( 345)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tobey Maguire ... David
Reese Witherspoon ... Jennifer
William H. Macy ... George Parker
Joan Allen ... Betty Parker
Jeff Daniels ... Bill Johnson
J.T. Walsh ... Big Bob
Don Knotts ... TV Repairman
Marley Shelton ... Margaret Henderson
Jane Kaczmarek ... David's Mom
Giuseppe Andrews ... Howard
Jenny Lewis ... Christin
Marissa Ribisi ... Kimmy
Denise Dowse ... Health Teacher
McNally Sagal ... Science Teacher
Paul Morgan Stetler ... College Counselor
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Storyline

David Wagner is a kid whose mind is stuck in the 1950s. He's addicted to a classic 50's sitcom television show called "Pleasantville". Pleasantville is a simple place, a place where all of its citizens are swell and simple-minded folks, a place where the word "violence", and life outside of Pleasantville, is unbeknownst to its inhabitants; things are perfect down in Pleasantville. One evening, the life of David and his obnoxious sister Jennifer take a bizarre turn when an eccentric repairman hand them a supposed magical remote. After a quarrel between the siblings, they inexplicably zap themselves into the world of "Pleasantville". Now, David and Jennifer must adjust to a 50s lifestyle of repressed desires and considerably different societal values while trying to find their way home. Written by Kyle Perez

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Pleasantville - It's Just Around the Corner See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Fantasy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pleasantville See more »

Filming Locations:

Petaluma, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,855,063, 25 October 1998

Gross USA:

$40,584,421

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$49,805,462
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William H. Macy and Joan Allen appeared in Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) and Room (2015). See more »

Goofs

The flag outside the school has 48 stars, the correct number for 1958. The one atop the fire truck has 50 stars. By 1958, it was well known that the 50-star flag would be introduced soon, and 50-star flags were available, but it still seems unlikely that an official vehicle would be flying an unofficial flag (especially since the official flag in 1959 had 48 stars until July 3rd, and 49 stars from July 4th until the end of the year). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[David is gazing admiringly at a pretty blonde girl]
David: *Hi*
[chuckles]
David: I mean, Hi. Uh, look, you probably don't think I should be asking you this. I mean, not knowing you well and all? I mean, you know, I, I, I know you, 'cause everybody knows you. I just don't know you technically. Uh, anyhow. Uh, I don't know what you're doing this weekend, but my mom's leaving town, and she's letting me borrow the car.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The New Line logo plays in complete silence. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Troop: Unpleasantville (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Across the Universe
Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Performed by Fiona Apple
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Where everything is always the same.
27 January 2003 | by Cipher-JSee all my reviews

The basic theme here being that the meaningful life requires breaking out of rigid, dull and conventional roles, this film's story sucks two teens back through their television set to a fictitious 1950s sitcom named "Pleasantville," where life is in gray-tones until they start breaking the rules. The self-referential notion of having characters interact with the very media which represents them has its counterpart as far back as 1924 with Buster Keaton in "Sherlock Jr.," in 1970 with a low-budget film named "The Projectionist," and in 1985 with Woody Allen's "The Purple Rose of Cairo." But where the others explore the private experience of self-discovery through their enmeshment with the media, this one explores a much wider public awareness. In that sense it is a very cleaver and intelligent story, offering numerous social messages worthy of consideration.

On the downside, its message that "different" is better mostly translates into "contrary" means better, providing an "anything goes" mentality in answer to conventional values. The rules are to be broken by gratuitous sex, loud music, and cheap garish art. Not "transcending" in answer to different, but rather setting up what is conventional today as more desirable than what was conventional back then. Exchanging one convention for another is not for that reason an improvement, and the attempt to do so results in a self-congratulatory narcissism of the form: See how much more urbane and sophisticated we are than our parents were? The 1950s are set up as a straw-man, while the values of the 1990s are simply taken for granted as superior. Hence the deeper questions of change, growth and improvement, are never asked, and what we are given merely puts the past down without bringing up the present.


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