Pleasantville

Stars:  Tobey Maguire as David/Bud, Reese Witherspoon as Jennifer/Mary-Sue, Joan Allen as Mother Parker, William H. Macy as Father Parker, Jeff Daniels as Mr. Johnson.

Shame on the Academy of Arts & Sciences for not even nominating this brilliant, unique screenplay by Gary Ross (he also produced and directed the film) for an Academy Award. What on earth were they thinking?

This is by far one of the most original film concepts in recent years: David is a teenager so enamored with the oldie but goodie 1950’s styled family TV show called “Pleasantville” that he readies himself for its weekend TV marathon. His oversexed sister, on the other hand, has the remote readied for something else and the two battle it out until the remote is smashed to smithereens.

In steps, of all people, actor Don Knotts (best known as Barney Fife with his customary “Mayberry” accent) portraying a TV repairman. He gives the kids a magic remote control and before they know it, they’re sucked into the TV show itself where everything is pleasant, where everything is the same and everything and everyone is in black and white. There’s no sex, no rain and the very thought of anything beyond Pleasantville dumbfounds the populace.

It’s the ultimate “Leave it to Beaver” or “Father Knows Best” existence except the people in Pleasantville don’t know any better. David and sister Jennifer have now actually become Bud and Mary-Sue Parker, the obedient, excessively cheerful, A+ students that the show’s TV audience has come to know and love.

In Pleasantville, the day begins with a ten-course breakfast fit for a King and ends with the jaunty refrain of “Honey, I’m home!” when Dad Parker comes home from his hard day at the office, expecting a cold martini and a hot dinner.

The new Bud warns his sister to play her part of the insipid little teenager of a wholesome town well and not make waves otherwise the entire Pleasantville universe will shatter.

But, you can be sure that little by little, by word or deed from the two of them, Pleasantville is given a facelift and the marshmallow flavor of its world is turned into “rocky road”. Soon the people and the town take on magical hints of color in an inventive bit of special effects where a single red rose appears in a wash of gray matter or one girl’s lips turn a rosy glow. The townspeople think it’s a disease that’s spreading in the ranks but the infection can’t be stopped and pretty soon the many take on deep-seated character changes, personalities far beyond what the characters of Pleasantville could ever have imagined. But, they don’t all go softly through the change. Turmoil erupts and it takes the wisdom of modern day David as Bud to show them the way. They are, now and forever, real people, with all the problems, loves and joys of real people living in a real town.

David and Jennifer grow from the first-introduced self-centered teens. The message they tell: You can be happy without things having to be exactly the way you thought things should be.

Lotta says: Even Bubba – my hubba-hubba said this movie was “charming” and if a good old boy like Bubba can say that, it must be true.