Sunday, February 17, 2008

REVIEW: Pleasantville


Year: 1998
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels
Distributor: New Line Cinema
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Pleasantville is the type of movie that doesn't attract alot of attention simply because of the way the movie looks. It was released in 1998 with positive reviews, but it couldn't reach the amount of people the movie intended too. Grossing only an estimated $49 million worldwide on a budget of $60 million, Pleasantville wasn't a box office hit like other black and white movies were. I don't really know what stopped the movie from being a big hit. Pleasantville is a movie that I have been trying to get around to watching. I thought the concept of the movie was intriguing and I couldn't wait to watch it.

Plot Outline:
David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) are two all American kids growing up in today's world. Jennifer is the cool and popular kid, while David is the thin and nerdy one. While Jennifer is into getting guys, David is into watching TV, especially his favorite TV show, Pleasantville. Tonight David and Jennifer have slightly different plans. During their squabble over the TV remote, it breaks and a mysterious stranger is at the door (Don Knotts). He hands them a new remote that changes their lives forever. Somehow David and Jennifer get zapped into the TV and are now part of Pleasantville.

The story of Pleasantville is an interesting one. This movie might has a simple concept, but it branches out to create other ones. The plot of the movie might start out like its nothing new and more of the same stuff, but it than branches out. Their are many memorable moments in Pleasantville because the plot doesn't focus on one thing instead it throws you a curve ball and sends you in another direction. I don't know if this is a smart thing to do because its something the audience might not like, but for the most part, it works. The movie also features an interesting ending because the ending could work for two ways. The characters were very well made and were pleasant to look at. Although the movie tends to drag on alot, the movies story is still enjoyable for the most part.

Tobey Maguire plays David the nerdy boy who pretty much knows everything about Pleasantville and he does a pretty good job. I very much enjoyed Tobey Maguire in the movie, I thought it wasn't Oscar material, but it was still pretty good. Then we have Reese Witherspoon playing Jennifer, the more mature one in the family and the one who loves boys. Witherspoon does a pretty good job. Shes pretty much in the same shoes as Maguire with both giving good performances, but nothing great. William H. Macy plays George Parker in the film and hes very creative. His character doesn't really get alot of attention in the beginning of the movie so Its hard to kind of tell, but his lines do get increased later on. We also get Joan Allen playing as Betty Parker and shes good in her own way. I felt the cast was very solid and pretty entertaining for the most part.

The movie doesn't feature any CGI type visuals since the movie is mostly around the 50's to 60's era. Pleasantville is presented in color and black and white. The film is mostly in black and white so it was important for the blacks to be spot on and for the most part, it is. Everything looks pretty clear and smooth. Colors also stand out alot when shown. As I said this film is mostly in black and white, but it also has moments where the film is in full color like near the end. The colors look very bright and vivid. Detail was pretty good, but not the best I have seen. Some shots can tend to look alittle soft while others generally look good. I felt very pleased with the visuals in the movie.

The movie has a wonderful soundtrack. Its composed by Randy Newman who also scored the Toy Story movies for Disney and Seabiscuit for Universal. The soundtrack is very delicate and well produced. Although the music is definitely well made, it isn't used much in the film. I mean sure we do get music, but its hardly used effectively like it should have been. Still the music sounds very good when its produced. The movie is also kind of dialogue driven so the voices are pretty crisp and very vocal. There isn't much in the bass department so those with surround sound might be disappointed. I was also pleased with the music in Pleasantville.

Pleasantville is a weird movie that I surprisingly enjoyed. I thought the story was alittle straight forward, but I was wrong because the movie focuses on things of the past. The cast is very good with solid lines from everybody. The visual look of the black and white colors are very solid dark. The music is although hardly used alot is still wonderful. Pleasantville isn't meant for just anybody. If your going in this expecting a funny comedy then you might be disappointed. The movie is pretty engrossing and well developed. I would suggest this to those who want a good movie that they can watch.

Grade: B

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