— Roger Ebert American film critic, author, journalist, and TV presenter 1942 - 2013
Review http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/pleasantville-1998 of Pleasantville (1 October 1998)
Reviews, Four star reviews
Contesto: In the twilight of the 20th century, here is a comedy to reassure us that there is hope — that the world we see around us represents progress, not decay. Pleasantville, which is one of the year's best and most original films, sneaks up on us. It begins by kidding those old black-and-white sitcoms like "Father Knows Best," it continues by pretending to be a sitcom itself, and it ends as a social commentary of surprising power.
The film observes that sometimes pleasant people are pleasant simply because they have never, ever been challenged. That it's scary and dangerous to learn new ways. The movie is like the defeat of the body snatchers: The people in color are like former pod people now freed to move on into the future. We observe that nothing creates fascists like the threat of freedom.
Pleasantville is the kind of parable that encourages us to re-evaluate the good old days and take a fresh look at the new world we so easily dismiss as decadent. Yes, we have more problems. But also more solutions, more opportunities and more freedom. I grew up in the '50s. It was a lot more like the world of Pleasantville than you might imagine. Yes, my house had a picket fence, and dinner was always on the table at a quarter to six, but things were wrong that I didn't even know the words for.