PLEASANTVILLE. Gary Ross, dir., script, co-prod. USA: Larger Than Life, New Line Cinema (prod.) / New Line Cinema (dist.), 1998. Randy Newman, original music. Julianna Makovsky, costume design. Jeannine Claudia Oppewall, prod. design. Color: BW/Color (see below). Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, J. T. Walsh, Reese Witherspoon, Don Knotts, featured players.
Fantasy. David and Jennifer (Maguire and Witherspoon), brother and sister twins in the primary world of the movie—filmed in color—get transported to the black and white world of a 1958 TV show, where they become Bud Parker and Mary Sue Parker. Bud and Mary Sue bring to this static, pleasant world: sex, reading, modern art, anger, love, and, generally, change—with the changes signified by color. Features a very explicit scene of Bud being offered an apple in garden-ish area and enthusiastically (and self-consciously?) biting into it, for an "O, felix culpa" motif—O, happy sin!—even more explicit than the classic Star Trek episode "The Apple". PLEASANTVILLE is significant here for the medium of translation into the alternative world, and the portal into that world, being a TV set with a souped-up, highly modernistic remote. The remote into the world and the monitoring of their progress there is done by a TV repairman played by Don Knotts. More generally significant as an attack on safety and whitebread pleasantness as unproblematic ideals and a 1950s family-values TV show as an image of eutopia. CAUTION: Sex is complex but valued in PLEASANTVILLE, including solo sex by a motherly woman, and potential dangers of heterosex are slighted; the potential unpleasantness of difference(s) is developed.