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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: April 23: Pleasantville


April 23: Pleasantville

"Two 1990's teenagers find themselves in a 1950's sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world."

   I watched Pleasantville a long time ago and remembered thinking it just had a cool premise and a great cast. After re-watching it, I realize it is much more than that, as it is a rather heavy drama with a hell of a lot of symbolism (I think?). The story involves David (Tobey Maguire) and his sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) magically being teleported inside a 50's style, Leave it to Beaver-like TV show called Pleasantville. In the little town, everything is perfect. The basketball team never misses a shot, the lawns are always green, wives always have meals ready for their husbands when they get home from work, and it never rains. David is a huge fan of the show and knows everything about its residents while his sister, Jennifer, could care less about it and gets into trouble on her own. Through her "introduction of sin", the town begins to change.

Oh my God the cherry is red! The damn thing is red!? Do you see this people!?

   So yeah, that's what happens. The black and white town begins to change color as more and more people start having sex and giving blow jobs at Lover's Lane. The effects used to showcase the changing colors are incredible. One scene stands out, where David and a date of his are driving through a park, and pink blossoms fall from the trees. It had to have taken a hell of a lot of editing to make it all look so good and it certainly pays off. Along with the effects, Pleasantville has an incredible set that is built like an old TV show's and has the vibe of Back to the Future. The entire design of the movie is great and helps make a rather ridiculous premise all the more believable. 

No Doc Brown, but plenty of Jeff Daniels

   I would definitely recommend Pleasantville as it is much more than it seems. The symbolism is heavy and certainly up to your own interpretation. I was able to see clear parallelisms between the film and the book of Genesis in the Bible, but when I read more about the film online I found some to believe the movie to be anti-religion. Either way, the symbolism is not distracting and at it's heart, Pleasantville has a great story with just as good characters. The film is a good reminder of how times have changed, for the worse, but that love, imagination, sex, and friendship will always be important on Main Street. 

The Good:
great acting from a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon before she was Legally Blonde
The Better:
an idea that could have gone off the wall, bat-shit stupid that actually works and avoids the disaster
The Best:
great special effects in a drama... kind of like if Wolverine starred in Homeward Bound

Overall: 8.0/10


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