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Pleasantville poster

Pleasantville

Gary Ross, Oscar nominated for his Dave and Big screenplays, made his directorial debut with this comedy. The cheerful '50s TV sitcom "Pleasantville" is revived in the '90s for a loyal cable audience. One devoted fan is shy suburban teen David Wagner (Tobey Maguire), who has an almost obsessive interest in the series. Living with his divorced mother (Jane Kaczmarek), David sometimes has disputes with his ultra-hip twin sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon). She wants to watch MTV just when a Pleasantville marathon is about to begin. They struggle over the remote control, and it breaks. A strange TV repairman (Don Knotts) supplies their new remote, a potent high-tech device which zaps David and Jennifer inside Pleasantville, where their new sitcom parents are businessman George Parker (William H. Macy) and wife Betty (Joan Allen). As "Bud" and "Mary Sue," the teens take up residence in a black-and-white suburbia where sex does not exist and the temperature is always 72 degrees. Life is always pleasant, books have no words, bathrooms have no toilets, married couples sleep in twin beds, the high school basketball team always wins, and nobody ever questions "The Good Life." David revels in Pleasantville's Prozac-styled peacefulness. He fits right in, but Jennifer's 1990s attitude upsets the blandness balance, painting parts of Pleasantville in "living color." Repressed desires surface, cracks appear in the '50s lifestyles, and the Pleasantville populace finds their lives changing in strange, wonderful ways. It's liberating -- but there's also a darker side. This film breaks an all-time record with more than 1700 special effects shots. Shown at the 1998 Toronto Film Festival.