A fight over the remote control sees Tobey Maguire and sister Reese literally zapped into 'Pleasantville', a 50s TV soap where everything is exceedingly...pleasant. As with any such good fairytale plot, there's a dark undercurrent that transforms this comedic tale into a poignant, touching film.
Tobey and Reese have to fit in as Bud and Mary-Sue Parker, living with cardboard character parents, Joan Allen and William H Macy. Tobey is an obsessive fan of the show so knows how to behave. Reese, though, can't contain her disdain for being stuck in what is to her a hellish monochrome world, filled with creepy 'nice' people.
Both teenagers set off ripples in the bland town with their individuality exciting some, while threatening others. Vivid Technicolor tones seep into the black and white settings, as some within the town ditch their dreary existences to explore new emotions, and indulge in new-found creativity.
"Pleasantville" is one of the few recent Hollywood films out there that has used new digital technology to truly engage the viewer, and make possible a thoughtful story. Not only do you find yourself eagerly examining every scene for new traces of colour within a previously monochrome palette, but there's excitement too in watching each character's reaction to the changes.
Sadly, not all are positive to change, and their fear spills into racist segregationist behaviour. Suddenly, nothing is pleasant any more, and it is time for each person to stand for the values they believe in, whether newly found or deeply entrenched. Thanks to the understated performances of the many fine character actors in this film, you'll find yourself really caring for their plight.