“Pleasantville” DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

2/04/2011 Posted by Admin


DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Written and directed by Gary Ross, 116 minutes, PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

Gary Ross’ “Pleasantville” takes a satirical look at moral perfection, sexual repression and traditional, gender-based roles through the lens of a fictional, black-and-white 1950s television show.

Called “Pleasantville,” the show features a cast of characters so ridiculously perfect, uptight and moral, they make the cast of “Father Knows Best” look as if they were raised in a red light district.

Still, for bookish David (Toby Maguire), who lives in present-day America and comes from a badly broken home, this confectionery never-never land is something of a tonic, a place where mom always will love dad, dinner always will be served at six, and everything--apparently-- always will be all right.

Or will it? When David and his slutty sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) are literally transported into “Pleasantville," they not only lose their identities and become characters on the show, but they quickly learn that the world David once idealized is actually a soulless void of overwhelming imperfections.

Ross, who wrote “Big” and “Dave,” wants more from “Pleasantville” than just heartwarming fantasy. He wants us to know that in spite of our problems, we’ve nevertheless grown as a society. When David and Jennifer begin to challenge the people of Pleasantville to give into their repressed passions, color begins to touch their cheeks--which prompts relief from some, and rampant discrimination from those who always will fear the unknown.

In spite of its preachy ending, “Pleasantville” is a good film marked by solid performances and a searing wit, the latter of which is showcased beautifully when Joan Allen's monochromatic mom masturbates to her first orgasm. Apparently, she got the job done right because when she climaxes, the tree on her front lawn bursts into bright orange flames. Essentially, she's achieved sexual liberation in a puff of white-hot smoke.

And good for Joan for discovering it.

Grade: B+

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