I Rewatched "Pleasantville" As An Adult And Decided It's So Underrated
We don't talk about this movie enough.
Recently I've been revisiting the movies I was obsessed with as a teen (and pre-teen). I've done some of the more obvious ones: Clueless, Can't Hardly Wait, and Cruel Intentions. Pleasantville, meanwhile, is a movie that I watched A LOT when I was younger, but that no one really talks about anymore. I decided it was time that changed. Here's how the experience of rewatching it went down...
1. I don’t remember this having a “Once Upon a Time” opening. I guess it is like a modern fairy tale.
2. Oh my god Tobey Maguire. That hair is so bad. He really does look like guys I went to high school with though.
3. It’s so funny when the camera pulls back and you realise he’s not actually talking to that girl.
4. Ooft this onslaught of depressing facts from the teachers is, well depressing.
5. I relate to Tobey Maguire’s character (what’s his name??) distracting himself from a depressing reality by binge-watching old shows. A little too much, in fact.
6. Oh yeah, the mum from Malcolm in the Middle is the mum in this!
7. The juxtaposition of Tobey’s less-than-ideal home life with what’s happening on screen is great.
8. What happens to the “real” Bud and Mary Sue in this whole mess? That’s never explained.
9. Here’s Reese!
10. This is one of her most under-appreciated roles tbh.
11. This whole movie is under-appreciated.
12. “I can’t believe you’re related to him.” “Only on my parent’s side.” Incredible.
13. That hair clip!
14. Is that Jason Behr?! Blink and you’ll miss him.
15. “It’s not slutty. It’s fun.” My friends and I definitely quoted that line a lot.
16. Lmao I forgot the whole plot hinges on them fighting over wanting to watch TV at the same time.
17. I can’t believe that tiny-ass TV is “new”.
18. Meanwhile Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire don’t look remotely related, hey.
19. I remember when this came out, and so many people were put off by the fact that some of it was in black and white. Smh.
20. “Look at me! I’m pasty!” Hahaha.
21. The styling is so good. And Reese’s hair low-key looks amazing like that.
22. “We’re supposed to be at home, David! We’re supposed to be in COLOUR!” This movie is even funnier than I remember it being.
23. “And my skin was really great since March.” Reese’s speech about the unfairness of the situation is iconic.
24. PAUL WALKER. He’s so beautiful in this movie.
25. Reese/Mary Sue deciding to stay after seeing Paul Walker/Skip Martin is very relatable.
26. All the little details are great. The fire department rescuing cats. The main street that goes nowhere. The basketballs that never miss.
27. “I could kill a guy with these things.” Lol.
28. Paul Walker is so good in this.
29. The whole cast is, really.
30. Do they just, like, never go to the toilet??
31. “Did he give it to you?” “I don’t think he knows how.” That line went over my head as a kid.
32. “It sure is pretty.” “Oh yeah. Gorgeous.” These kinds of lines are usually the guy talking about the girl, I like how it’s swapped here.
33. "How can you possibly pin me?” I remember having very serious discussions with my friends over what she meant by “pinning” him. None of us had any idea.
34. I am CACKLING over the fact that Skip thinking he’s ill.
35. This chance meeting between Betty and Bill is a real moment.
36. Here comes the colour! The flower opening up and turning red is such an iconic scene.
37. Actually laughing out loud at Skip telling all the basketball dudes about sex.
38. “Nobody is happy in a poodle skirt and a sweater set.” I can’t decide if Reese has the best lines in this or if she is just THAT good at delivering them.
39. Oh, the mayor. That’s right. I hate this guy.
40. The flipped sex talk between Mary Sue and her mum is so good.
41. “There are other ways to enjoy yourself. Without dad.” Okay, when I first watched this I had NO IDEA what was happening. I was like, has she never had a bath before?? Is it just extra hot??? What was she doing for something to catch on fire????
42. Now that I get it I appreciate it even more.
43. A movie about the power of female masturbation. We stan.
44. The whole fire scene is great.
45. I also enjoy the excitement over what happens next in a book.
46. This movie is visually stunning, with the mix of grey scale and colour.
47. “Going up to that lake all the time is one thing. But now they’re going to the LIBRARY. What’s next?!” Lmao.
48. Every time the mayor talks for an extended period of time I tune out. Ugh.
49. This scene where Bud does Betty’s makeup is so touching.
50. Except how did her eyes get grey again? It doesn’t make sense.
51. Bud showing Bill the art book is also lovely.
52. He’s really embracing all the changes now.
53. Mary Sue complaining about Bud starting such a “dorky fad” with reading is even funnier considering Reese is a real trendsetter with books herself now.
54. Ahhhh how did I forget about this scene where they’re driving up to Lover’s Lane with “At Last” playing and all the petals flying through the air? It’s iconic.
55. There are two guys from Buffy in this!
56. Bill’s paintings are getting me emotional.
57. And so is him telling Betty that her coloured skin is beautiful. And him wiping her face! It’s so intimate.
58. Margaret offering Bud an apple is a bit on the nose.
59. Mary Sue choosing a book over a date with Skip is a real mood.
60. The shot of Bud in the rain is also iconic. I know I'm using that word a lot, but it's true.
61. “Honey I’m home. Where’s my diner?!” This guy.
62. “If George doesn’t get his dinner, any one of you could be next.” THIS fucking guy.
63. Of course it’s the old white guys banding together to resist change.
64. I love how Mary Sue turned colourful from reading.
65. I’m glad Betty is embracing her own colour now. And she’s leaving her husband!
66. Awww Bud gave Margaret an umbrella.
67. It’s so good that Bill and Betty have gone from zero to 100 and put a nude painting in the window.
68. Men using it as an invitation to harass Betty is too real.
69. The fact that Bud turns colourful by sticking up for Betty is great, though.
70. It’s so sad when the townspeople smash the painting.
71. How did Skip never turn colourful? He was the first one to have sex! And see colour!
72. The book burning makes me feel sick.
73. But Mary Sue defending “the only book” she’s ever read is amazing.
74. Bill comforting Betty is so soft and pure.
75. I love that Bud becomes a rebel leader.
76. The mural is awesome.
77. “Is this a bad time?” Lol George he’s literally in jail.
78. Bill pleading to still be able to paint, even in a restricted way, is heartbreaking.
79. This scene of Bud talking to his dad in the courtroom is SO GOOD. Tobey’s delivery of the lines, William H Macy’s expression, Joan Allen radiating quiet dignity. And BOOM the dad is in colour. It’s perfect.
80. “Pretty soon the women will be going off to work, while the men stay at home to cook.” I’m screaming that it’s this line that finally gets the mayor to become colourful.
81. And now everything is in colour!
82. I love that Mary Sue is going to college now, but I wish there was a way to display her growth without her completely dismissing her sexuality.
83. Also, like, how does her staying and Bud leaving actually work? Does the real Bud come back? How do they explain Reese’s disappearance in the real world?
84. Betty saying goodbye to Bud is making me cry.
85. And only like one hour has passed?? HOW DOES THIS WHOLE THING WORK?
86. Bud – or rather, David now – helping his actual mum with her makeup is sweet.
87. WHEN IS HE GOING TO TELL HER HIS SISTER HAS DISAPPEARED THOUGH????
88. Oh my god this Fiona Apple song! I used to listen to it on repeat constantly.
89. This is something that has haunted me since I first saw this movie: William H Macy’s character just disappears??? WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM??
90. Okay despite some lingering questions, I thoroughly enjoyed rewatching Pleasantville. It’s still a freaking great movie.