Description of Film:
This movie provides a lighter look at discrimination.
“Pleasantville” is a television
show that David Wagner, played by Tobey Maguire
(Spiderman I and II), is obsessed with.
The show is a black-and-white comedy that focuses
on a “wholesome” family. Set
in the 1950’s, the television show is
similar to “Leave it to Beaver.”
Wagner loves this show because it lets him escape
from his everyday life. David and his
sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon, Legally
Blond), lead troubled lives. Their
mother and father are divorced and neither parent
seems to want to spend time with David and Jennifer.
One night, the two siblings begin arguing over
the remote control when suddenly they are transported
into the world of Pleasantville and become the
show’s two main characters, Bud and Mary
Sue Parker. In this world, people seldom
think for themselves; they mostly just follow
the rules. However, soon David and Jennifer
are turning this world upside down. They
start to open people’s minds and when
they do, everything turns from black-and-white
into Technicolor. Some people don’t
embrace this at all, however, and the “coloreds”
are banned from certain areas. Gary Ross
(Seabiscuit) wrote and directed this
unusual look at discrimination and conformity.
Joan Allen (The Crucible) turns in
a brilliant performance as Betty Parker, the
conservative mother. William H. Macy (Fargo)
is exceptional as George Parker, the father
who is unwilling to change. J.T. Walsh
(A Few Good Men) offers a first-rate
performance as Big Bob, the man who runs Pleasantville
and begins to hate all of the changes that David
and Jennifer trigger.
Pleasantville was nominated for three
Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best
Costume Design and Best Original Dramatic Score.
Why I Recommend This Film:
This movie is beautifully done.
The cinematography is gorgeous and the acting
is superb. This movie offers an interesting
look at discrimination because it focuses on
“color,” not “race.”
This provides a lighter way into a discussion
about a very serious issue.
Why This is Film Important:
This movie reminds me of the brown-eyed/blue-eyed
experiment. It suggests that discrimination
can touch anyone at any time. Discrimination
doesn’t have to be just about race, sexual
orientation, or religion. Discrimination
about other issues can hurt just as much.
Favorite Quotation: David:
I know you miss her. I mean, you told
me you did. But maybe it's not just the
cooking or the cleaning you miss. Maybe
it's something else. Maybe you can't even describe
it. Maybe you only know it when it's gone.
Maybe it's like there's a whole piece of you
that's missing too. Look at her, Dad.
Doesn't she look pretty like that? Doesn't
she look just as beautiful as the first time
you met her? Do you really want her back
the way she was? Doesn't she just look
wonderful? Now don't you wish you could
tell her that?