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Pleasantville (1998)

This delightful comic fable begins in full colour in 1998, when an introverted, TV-watching teen, David (Tobey Maguire), and his sister Jennifer (Reece Witherspoon) are magically transported into reruns of a 1950s black-and-white sitcom called Pleasantville.

Everything seems picture perfect in this cookie-cutter small town, where family values rule, nothing ruffles the primped surface, and the firemen are mainly employed scaling trees to rescue little kittens.

pleasantville1998

Like time-travelling classic Back to the Future (1985), director Gary Ross’s film plays on nostalgia for the good old days of the 1950s but cleverly subverts this backward-looking impulse by showing how this world of conservatism and small-mindedness is transformed by its visitors from the future.

As David and Jennifer’s modernising influence is felt in the community, Pleasantville gradually introduces splashes of colour into its monochrome palette, a wonderfully cinematic ploy to prove that – where some things are concerned – time is never best standing still.

David, ‘Bud Parker’
Tobey Maguire
Jennifer Wagner, ‘Mary Sue Parker’
Reese Witherspoon
Bill Johnson
Jeff Daniels
Betty Parker
Joan Allen
George Parker
William H. Macy
Big Bob
J.T. Walsh
TV repair man
Don Knotts
Margaret
Marley Shelton
Mary Sue
Natalie Ramsey
Bud
Kevin Connors
Howard
Giuseppe Andrews
Kimmy
Marissa Ribisi
Christin
Jenny Lewis
Mark
Justin Nimmo
Mr Simpson
Harry Singleton
Skip Martin
Paul Walker
Betty Jean
Dawn Cody
Lisa Anne
Maggie Lawson
Peggy Jane
Andrea Taylor
Miss Peters
Lela Ivey
Tommy
Jim Patric
Doctor Henderson
Charles C. Stevenson Jr
Marge Jenkins
Nancy Lenehan
Gus
Weston Blakesley
Roy
Patrick O’Brien
Ralph
Jim Antonio
Mary
Kristin Rudrüd
Will
Erik Macarthur
Whitey
David Tom
Pete
Johnny Moran
Police Chief Dan
James Keane

Director
Gary Ross