It's 1998, a time of liberal homilies, and two youngsters from a broken home plainly need spiritual guidance: while Jennifer (Witherspoon) wraps herself in the attentions of the opposite sex, brother David (Maguire) finds comfort in the nostalgia of a '50s soap, 'Pleasantville', offering 'a flashback to kinder, gentler times'. Enter the fairy godfather: Knotts' slightly misguided TV repair man, who, reading David's wish for refuge literally, whisks the pair inside the show's b/w world, where they're welcomed into the Parker family, and life is simple, happy, regular, insular, sexless. An ingenious fable, screenwriter Ross's directorial debut playfully spoofs the small-minded lifestyle idealised by 'family values' advocates, and the intolerance and insecurity underlying that ideal. The introduction of colour to the original monochrome palette, marking the spread of disturbing new ideas imported by the '90s teens, is a concise cinematic device and gloriously watchable.
Cast and crew
William H Macy