Pleasantville was the brainchild of Gary Ross who wrote, directed and produced the film. It had an all-star cast including:
Tobey Maguire as David/Bud
Reese Witherspoon as Jennifer/Mary Sue
Jeff Daniels as Bill Johnson
Joan Allen as Betty Parker
Paul Walker as Skip Martin
Jane Kaczmarek as David and Jennifer's mother
Don Knotts as a TV repairman
William H. Macy as George Parker
J. T. Walsh as Big Bob
David and Jennifer once again physically fight over the remote, whisking them into the TV and putting them into Pleasantville, circa 1958. At this point David and Jennifer become Bud and Mary Sue Parker. Bud of course gets into his new role but Mary Sue doesn’t want any part of it, as she looks down at her black and white hands, stating, “Look at me, I’m pasty.”
Slowly, color starts working its way into the town, bit by bit.
Quote from Big Bob (J. T. Walsh): “People, people.... I think we all know what's going on here. Up until now everything around here has been, well, pleasant. Recently certain things have become unpleasant. It seems to me that the first thing we have to do is to separate out the things that are pleasant from the things that are unpleasant.”
Gary Ross stated, "This movie is about the fact that personal repression gives rise to larger political oppression...That when we're afraid of certain things in ourselves or we're afraid of change, we project those fears on to other things, and a lot of very ugly social situations can develop."
Here is my take on the film. It was about America (or the world) in the 1950s. There was a status quo in the country and conservative values. But as the 1950s gave way to the turbulent 60s, changes started to take place. ("The times, they are a changin'." – Bob Dylan) With these inevitable changes brought passion as people began to live what was truly inside of them. Kids experimented and women found their independence. But with those changes, also came problems, growing pains which brought about riots, protests, and fights with those unwilling to let go of the past.
As a child of the 60s myself, I identified with those wanting to change, but I also felt deeply for the ones who became afraid of these changes. Their whole world and existence was going away. I remember watching an episode of the sixties-based TV show, The Wonder Years. The daughter in the show was changing, quitting college, and moving in with her boyfriend. It was painful to watch the parents who didn't know how to handle the situation and had to just let it happen with great sadness.
This movie is chocked full of metaphors and it is fun to find them while watching. For instance, there is a strong element of the Civil Rights problem that occurred in the 1960s.
Other songs included:
"Across the Universe" - Fiona Apple
"Dream Girl" - Robert & Johnny
"Be-Bop-A-Lula" - Gene Vincent
"Lawdy Miss Clawdy" - Larry Williams
"Sixty Minute Man" - Billy Ward and His Dominoes
"Take Five" - The Dave Brubeck Quartet
"At Last" - Etta James
"(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" - Elvis Presley
"Rave On!" - Buddy Holly and the Crickets
"Please Send Me Someone to Love" - Fiona Apple
"So What" - Miles Davis
"Suite from Pleasantville" - Randy Newman