Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    The kind of parable that encourages us to re-evaluate the good old days and take a fresh look at the new world we so easily dismiss as decadent.
  2. Magical, visually exciting, affecting even in its sincere hokeyness, and extremely provocative.
  3. 90
    This uncommonly clever, surprisingly poignant fairy tale packs a social wallop that we're not quite prepared for.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Ingeniously conceived and impressively executed, Pleasantville is a provocative, complex and surprisingly anti-nostalgic parable.
  5. 88
    Not only is Pleasantville a satire, a fantasy, and a visual marvel, but it's the best kind of feel-good movie.
  6. Mr. Showbiz
    Reviewed by: Kevin Maynard
    Offers effortless charm, wit, and originality in spades.
  7. 80
    To concentrate on the minor faults of a fable as beautiful and unusual as Pleasantville would be missing the point.
  8. I can't get over the nagging feeling that Pleasantville's beguiling spell was cast by a real magician, only to be carelessly broken by the same clumsy charlatan.
  9. TNT RoughCut
    Reviewed by: Jennifer Nowitzky
    What makes up for the, at times, slow-moving theatrics is the physical beauty of Pleasantville.
    Reviewed by: John Hartl
    Charming and imaginative.
  11. Delightful as it often is, the picture suffers fom the same structural and thematic tidiness, even smugness, that it nominally opposes.
  12. While amusing and sometimes touching, Pleasantville is far from challenging.
  13. Ross's comedy isn't as inventive as "The Truman Show," which it resembles in some ways, but it explores interesting ideas with nimble humor.
  14. 70
    Lacks the edge and depth of a truly inspired work.
  15. 70
    The results are charming if rarely thrilling, with outstanding performances from Joan Allen and William H. Macy.
  16. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    An epic-size, largely entertaining parable of repression and awakening.
    Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Terrific idea, brilliantly worked out on a technical level.
  18. Reviewed by: Jack Kroll
    A complex, entertaining film that may have more ideas than it can handle, but certainly has real ideas.
  19. 70
    It's tough not to respond to the visual cleverness of Pleasantville.
    Reviewed by: Sean Means
    Eventually falls into the same candy-coated trap it's trying to expose. But the fact that a movie can acknowledge the trap exists is a step in the right direction.
  21. 67
    May not be as successful as it is ambitious, but you could do worse than to spend a few hours there.
  22. 63
    More clever than coherent.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 209 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 49
  2. Negative: 1 out of 49
  1. Feb 26, 2015
    The content we read compared to Pleasantville was interesting and exhilarating. In this essay I’ll be talking about the differences andThe content we read compared to Pleasantville was interesting and exhilarating. In this essay I’ll be talking about the differences and similarities. Pleasantville was interesting to me and I saw some hidden messages. I’ll be talking about all of this while comparing it to the bible. The story I’ll be comparing it too is Adam and Eve. I’ll be talking about what I think about the both. I will end it giving this a conclusion about what I learned.
    I thought some comparisons were when the cable guy made that world. It was similar to when God created Earth. Another comparison was when David was with his girlfriend and she gave him the apple. It reminded me of when Eve gave Adam the apple in the bible. I also thought David was the serpent because he went against the cable guy and changed things. These similarities are what I noticed throughout both of these items.
    Some differences are where the movie was set and where the bible was. Another difference is that only 2 people were in the bible and Pleasantville had a whole city of people. Another difference is that there is only one race in Pleasantville and there were multiple races in the bible. Those differences aren’t too amazing but they are definitely differences in the story to the book. More differences were that Pleasantville was an advanced place and Adam and Eve were just starting off on the world that had just a garden and not a city or town.
    The messages in the movie like when the wife put the makeup on was about having a mask and an identity of someone you aren’t. This is an example of deep messages in the movie. Another message was when certain colors appeared they had to do with different emotions and feelings. When the tree set on fire I felt like it had to do with passion and love. As the characters changed and became more mature I felt like it meant we all grow up. That’s what some ideas I thought about in the movie it didn’t relate to the bible but I had to put it in here.
    In conclusion there were similarities and differences to the movie to the book. I covered about what they were. I also talked about the messages in the movie too. I enjoyed comparing the two. I also enjoyed watching this movie. The movie had a lot of deep messages and was exciting. The concept we read was similar to the movie. That’s what I got from those two. Thank you for reading my essay.
    Full Review »
  2. Feb 26, 2015
    The two stories Genesis and Pleasantville have many similarity and differences. Comparing the story they have almost the same
    The two stories Genesis and Pleasantville have many similarity and differences. Comparing the story they have almost the same moral and almost same way of change. Without comparing the stories how we did. These two stories have a lot of similarities and differences.
    Some similarities of the two stories are the themes “Change” and “Knowledge”. Change is something that happened in both stories but at different times. Change Is Important to these stories by giving the story a background. For example change caused the conflict in Pleasantville by changing people behavior and color. This caused conflict because Jennifer Added sex to the world of Pleasantville. This caused many distractions for the basketball team causing them to miss their shots. In the story of Genesis has immediate change when they eat the apple, there for they don’t get the perfect lifestyle anymore. The gain of Knowledge Is something in the stories, as the characters progressed farther in the story. Having the Knowledge in the stories made the outcome a lot different on how the viewer perceives it and how they would have. With the similarities there are also differences.
    In the two stories they have many opposing differences such as how they are presented and the meaning behind them. These two stories are presented differently fist off that one is a book and one is a movie, but besides that these stories are different by the time they were based and written. Pleasantville was set in a more modern time around the 1940’s to 1950’s while Genesis was written way back in the BCE. The meaning behind these stories where almost exactly opposite. While Genesis meant to be set up perfectly and should be kept that way, never to change. On the other side of things in Pleasantville is try to say don’t do what your “supposed” unless it’s necessary.
    The theme of this story was the effect little changes make big differences happen. Then this is put to the stories it makes them really similar. Using this theme makes the stories entertaining, and fun to watch/Read. Without the theme of each of these stories, I’m pretty sure that I would not understand the stories as well as I do now.
    Between the two stories the difference and the similarities really tie together. Both stories where entertaining but still had a meaning behind it. While these meaning maybe complete opposite ideas/meaning but they still have many similarities in quite a few words.
    Full Review »
  3. voo
    Feb 26, 2015
    Pleasantville is a story, or movie, about how two main characters, David and Jennifer, who both have two conflicting events the same night,Pleasantville is a story, or movie, about how two main characters, David and Jennifer, who both have two conflicting events the same night, fighting over the TV remote and breaking it. Unable to turn on the TV, a TV Repairman appears and gives them a new remote after a short conversation about their favorite TV show, Pleasantville. This new remote looks strange and as David turns the TV on they are both sucked into the TV and appear as Bud and Mary Sue, in the TV show, Pleasantville. Afterwards they begin to change the TV show, bringing knowledge to the TV Show.
    In Adam and Eve, after they both partake in the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they gain humility and use leaves to hide themselves from God, because they want to avoid shame. In Pleasantville, Bud’s mother change color after coming in contact with change, and is afraid because she is the first adult to turn to color. She hides herself from Bud’s father by covering the color with makeup, to similarly avoid shame. After a large spread of color in both environment and the people, people begin to segregate themselves and the Non-Colors start to bully the Colors because they feel they are superior in some way, possible because they are the ‘originals’ where the colors have changed and are therefore irrelevant. The Mayor, soon after, starts to instate rules or laws that target Colors specifically to ‘maintain pleasantness’, mostly because of the fact that he thinks the colors aren’t good for the community because he is a Non-Color himself. In Adam and Eve, once God sees that Adam and Eve have gained knowledge, he gets angry and starts to punish Adam and Eve with things such as death and disease, hunger and labor, etc.
    In Pleasantville, there is no real snake to tempt change with the main characters, but there is one in Adam and Eve. In Pleasantville, the change or gaining of knowledge happens over a longer time period, things becoming apparent slowly, but in Adam and Eve, the change is very fast, happening in the short time that God speaks to Adam and Eve about the things they have unleashed upon the earth. The change of Pleasantville is coming along from the two main characters, Jennifer and David, because they influence the people and environment around them, so in a way their existence in Pleasantville is the ‘snake’ as they tempt others by the idea of knowledge. It is also somewhat represented by David and Jennifer’s need to change the people around them. Near the beginning there is a scene where David tells the other man who works at the restaurant that he can do things without David being there, changing him. Also, in Pleasantville many of the people feel that change is good, or see it as them being happier after changing even though some of the things that come aren’t that happy, such as rainstorms. In Adam and Eve, God portrays the change, or knowledge, as something bad, or unhappy possibly. The story shows that change must not come because if there is no change, everything will keep going as they had before, maintaining a feeling of safety and peace. This could possibly relate to the saying, ‘Man fears nothing but the unknown.’
    In conclusion, Pleasantville and the story of Adam and Eve are very similar and try to portray the idea of change in different ways. Pleasantville portrays it as knowledge comes with good and bad things, but in the end you become a happier or better person because of it. In the story of Adam and Eve, it is portrayed as bad, that knowledge and change need to be kept away to keep the people safe. I feel that Pleasantville portrays the message better but in a more light-hearted way, whereas Adam and Eve portrays it worse, in a more heavy and angry way. The story, however, is much older than Pleasantville so it may have a bias towards not changing things due to old beliefs or the modern way of thinking at the time. As a personal reflection I feel that change is necessary to grow as a person. If you do not change you will be stuck where you are or how you think until change takes place.
    Full Review »