Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Pleasantville (1998)

Directed by Gary Ross

Starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, Reese Witherspoon


Works on many levels, a real thinker. Similar to the “what else is out there in TV land” Truman Show premise. Nice story, and nice use of effects. Just wish we could have somehow bypassed the silly “fighting for the remote control” time warp that set this wonderful story into motion.

The 50’s acting was stale but not stale enough. And there’s no way 50’s TV would feature a wife a good 6 inches taller than her husband. For the most part, the transition from 50’s cinematography to 90’s cinematography was smooth and timed nicely, but the fire/cat footage at the beginning was shot too much like a 90’s action sequence, with weird angles and quick cuts, not at all what you would see on a 50’s TV show. Bud asks what’s out there, but how come he never tries to see what’s out there himself? And wouldn’t Jennifer’s parents be concerned that their daughter has disappeared? They never addressed that. Did not get the end at all with the two men swapping seats on the bench. Were we supposed to be confused? Was it driving home the point that the future is and should be unexpected, and therefore creating a happy ending? The “coloreds” metaphor worked, and some of the footage even looked like riot footage from the 50’s, which I’m sure was entirely intentional.

Maguire was very good, and Witherspoon is very appealing. For some reason, you always want to side with her immediately, even with that attitude. She can be really funny. Knotts was good, too. Well-directed. Ross definitely has a distinctive taste for nostalgic movies. Neat how some people just have a knack for certain types of films. What makes them like that?

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