Sunday, July 11, 2010
Pleasantville is gratifying, insightful, feel-good entertainment. It wins us over immediately and entertains us deeply for the first hour. Then in the second half it grows more serious, but not to the point where it looses its sense of humor. And it's the thoughtful ideas that keeps the movie from being just another entertainment. Pleasantville is filled with good performances and interesting characters and it has one of the most inventive ideas ever imagined for this medium. Basically, it's about two teenagers who find themselves transported from the 90s to a 1950's TV sitcom called Pleasantville. The sitcom is the ultimate family entertainment, clean, funny, and a model of what life was like back in the "good old days". Now, Pleasantville exaggerates life in the 50s, but not as much as you might think. I read one critic who grew up in that time and said it wasn't that different from life in Pleasantville. Basically life then was prime and perfect. Everyone was agreeable, kind, and content with their set lifestyle. But when you think about it, there was a sort of robotic feel to it all. There were good things about it, but they were overshadowed by one's inability to express themselves and be different. The point of Pleasantville is that you can't trap someone in what's supposed to be a perfect life. They must have freedom to do what they want to do. Roger Ebert couldn't have said it better in his review when he remarked that these days, with that freedom, there are more problems but also more solutions. And as liberal ideas surfaced, things did start to change. One could look at Pleasantville as a history lesson, but more importantly it's a strikingly original movie about being free (I should note I haven't mentioned the visual side of the movie, which could actually be the most pleasing thing in it).