"Pleasantville" by Gary Ross

Essay by crimsonbutterflyHigh School, 11th gradeA+, July 2006

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"Until now everything around here has been, well, pleasant... except when it is unpleasant, it is very unpleasant indeed. And slowly the colours seep through."

Linda Lin

"Pleasantville" (124 min)

Directed by Gary Ross; starring Reese Witherspoon, Tobey Maguire, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, Paul Walker

IF there were any doubts that the febrile satire of the 1950s American social culture would be diluted when brought to the screen, let them be dispelled now. Enter the setting of the most intolerant decade of the 20th century, where attempts at social perfection were trademarks of the domestic scene. Welcome to a world where Father knows best, where Mother cooks dinner, and where Sister and Brother's small missteps are treated with stern-but-kind lectures, accurately endorsing the essence of the 50's-60's in shows such as "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best." And though a disappointment for the cynical critics who expected it catchier, it is all summed up by the title, simply quite pleasant.

Opening up in the comfortable familiarity of the 90's, twins David (Tobey Maguire), a bashful antisocial teenager and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), the promiscuous popular counterpart are children the 90s generation, immersed in the lifestyle of cable TV, rock and roll and sex. David is a TV soap addict, "Pleasantville" his favourite program. His encyclopedic knowledge of this 50's television sitcom however marks the arrival of a strange TV repairman (Don Knotts) who, impressed by David's Pleasantville expertise, transports the teens to the black and white Pleasantville program itself where they play the progeny Bud and Mary Sue of the perfect nuclear family, with the perfect parents George (William H Macy) and Betty (Joan Allen).

At first all seems perfect in a cheesy 1950's way with its white picket fences, sanitized language where "gee-whiz"...