A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The series underscores the need for living life to the fullest, the beauty that comes with making individual choices, and about the importance of recognizing both the idyllic and the ugly in order to do so. Tolerance of change and of difference, marriage, and divorce are also themes.
Positive Role Models
David (a.k.a. Bud) takes responsibility for gently leading Pleasantville out of its naive existence, and tries to be a positive role model. Jennifer (a.k.a. Mary Sue) is less gentle, but begins to redefine who she as a result of the experience. Some Pleasantville community members promote intolerance. David and Jennifer's mother is having relationship issues.
Violence & Scariness
Intolerance leads to some angry, riotous behavior, including the smashing of windows, looting, and a fist fight. A bloody lip is visible.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mostly we see flirting, kissing, and couples making out in cars, with perhaps some feet sticking out of a car window. (These teens are just becoming aware of sex.) A mom character masturbates in a bathtub and moans loudly. She is married, but begins an affair with another man; he paints her nude and displays the painting in his shop window. A character uses the word "slut" to describe herself. Overall, the movie manages to imply sex-on-the-brain without resorting to talk, such as showing the image of a double-bed in a store window, complete with a concerned crowd of onlookers outside.
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Language is somewhat strong, but isn't frequent. "F--k" is used once, and "s--t" can be heard a few times. The term "Jesus Christ" is frequently used. Words like "hell," "bitch," "goddamn," and "s--t" are occasionally audible.
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Products & Purchases
Logos like Buick and Cadillac visible on cars.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A teenager is shown smoking; a reference is made to "dying for a cigarette."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pleasantville contains lots of messages about living life to the fullest, the need for passion, and the courage to accept change. Sexual situations are frequent (including some loud moaning and paintings of nude figures), but a fair share of the references will go over young kids' heads. The term "Jesus Christ" is audible; words like "hell," "bitch," "s--t," and "f--k" are used a few times, too. Intolerant behavior leads to some riotous behavior (and a bloody lip). Teen smoking is briefly visible. All this being said, the main teen characters are strong and become positive role models. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Parents and teens alike will find many things to think and talk about after watching this engaging movie. Pleasantville draws parallels to Nazi Germany (book burning) and American Jim Crow laws ("No colored" signs), and the challenges of independent thinking. High schoolers may appreciate the way that the twins, at first retreating in different ways from the problems of the modern world, find that the rewards of the examined life make it ultimately worthwhile.
Also intriguing is the path of Jennifer's character. At first, she thinks that it is sex that turns the black and white characters into color. But when she stays "pasty," she realizes that the colors reveal something more subtle and meaningful -- the willingness to challenge the accepted and opening oneself up to honest reflection about one's own feelings and longings.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.