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Just when I thought nothing good could ever come out of Los Angeles, Pleasantville proves me wrong. It's one the most wonderful films I've seen in a while, and I'm still thinking about what it meant, and why.
David and Jennifer (Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon, respectively) are a pair of polar-opposite twins barely living through the 90's; David the school geek, Jennier the school slut. A magical remote control (given to them by Don Knotts himself) causes the two kids to be magically transported to "Pleasantville" the black & white world of a father-knows-best-esque television show from the 50's where mom and dad sleep in separate beds and nothing bad ever happens. If you've seen the numerous ads on television, you know the rest; David, knowing the show by heart, knows better than to mess with their world. But Jennifer can't resist, and after she deflowers the school stud, the black, white and gray world they've stumbled upon begins to turn to color, literally.
But it's much deeper than that. Beyond the lush visuals (that rival this year's earlier Dark City), dead-on acting (Joan Allen is a shoe-in come Oscar time) and wonderful direction by Gary Ross (who also wrote the screenplays for this, Dave and Big) lies one of the most original and thought-provoking films ever to come out of Tinseltown. Pleasantville isn't about special effects for their own sake, or clichs of realizing what's right or wrong; it's about change, how opening yourself up to new possibilities can set yourself free from anything. And the film's secrets are revealed to you gradually; finally, a movie that makes you think rather than do the thinking for you.
I walked out of this film feeling better about myself, and the world, and for all the right reasons. Pleasantville is a treasure and not to be missed.