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[[caption-width-right:300: [[{{Tagline}} Nothing is as simple as Black and White.]] ]]

->''"There are some places that the road doesn't go in a circle. There are some places where the road keeps going."''
-->-- '''David'''

A deliberately {{troperrific}} 1998 dramedy film written and directed by Gary Ross, starring Creator/ReeseWitherspoon, Creator/TobeyMaguire, Creator/JeffDaniels, Joan Allen, Creator/WilliamHMacy, J.T. Walsh, and Creator/DonKnotts.

Jennifer (Witherspoon) and David (Maguire) are a pair of '90s teen siblings who, during an argument over who gets to use the big TV in the living room, wind up TrappedInTVLand due to a strange TV repairman (Knotts) and a stranger magical remote. Specifically, they wind up in ''Pleasantville'', an old black-and-white show portraying the stereotypical 1950s American suburb (along the lines of ''Series/LeaveItToBeaver'' or ''Series/FatherKnowsBest'', but even more idealistic). David is thrilled because it's his favorite show; it is a happy world where nothing bad ever happens (as a contrast to David and Jennifer's unstable home life). Jennifer, being more of a party girl, finds Pleasantville incredibly dull and wants to liven the place up. Still, they both want to get home, and David wants to do so without upsetting the community -- but the repairman gets antsy and they're stuck.

Their presence winds up throwing the heavily-idealized world into chaos. As things become less idealized and more like the real world, they begin to show up in color instead of black and white -- people cease to be monochrome whenever they stop staying nice and snug within their boundaries and break out, displaying some inner truth about their character.

For an oddly similar experience in book form, try ''Literature/TheGiver''. Also see ''Film/MidnightInParis'' for a similar story dealing with escapism.

!!We'll be right back after some important Tropes from our sponsors!
* AnAesop: Life isn't perfect, but there's always a way to deal with it.
* AntiEscapismAesop: The film ends with the town being in color and learning to work with their problems.
* AscendedFanboy: David becomes Bud, which he loves at first.
* AutoErotica: What mainly goes down at Lovers Lane, and seen (or rather, heard) firsthand between Jennifer and Skip at that location.
* BlandNameProduct: [=TVTime=] for [=TVLand=].
* BlankBook: The entire library in Pleasantville is completely blank -- nobody ever read on the show, after all. Once changes begin occurring in the town, the books start to get filled.
* BlitheSpirit: The entire point of the kids' visit, which winds up [[NothingIsTheSameAnymore changing everything in the town]].
* BookBurning: Still-grey people burn books which appeared in the library because they saw it as sign of corruption and end of their happy, non-complicated existence.
* BrickJoke: David helping put out a fire is a hilarious example. First of all the movie establishes that all the firemen in town ever do is getting cats down from trees. Later, a tree bursts into flame. David catches wind of it and runs to the nearest fire station. Of course, there's never been an actual fire in Pleasantville until now:
--> '''David:''' Fire! ''(Confused firemen stare at him.)'' FIRE!!! ''(They still stare.)''... Cat? ''(They rush to the scene.)''\\
'''Fireman watching the tree burn:''' Where's the cat?
** One of them is then surprised to see water come from one of the hoses when David hitches it up, saying he ''always wondered at what they were for''.
* CatUpATree: The only thing the firemen do at first is rescuing cats from trees. There are no fire or emergencies in the idyllic world of Pleasantville.
* CharacterDevelopment: David starts out the film as an introverted loner who thinks of the show as escapism. Halfway through the film, he begins to display more assertive leader traits and earns his color by punching out a thug who was attacking his TV mom. Likewise, Jennifer starts as a shallow, slutty fashionista whose original intent is to shake things up, but when given a fresh start, she realizes the value of education and earns her color by breaking a date to study.
* ChekhovsSkill: Bill's painting ability. [[spoiler:He and David paint a huge graffiti picture to provoke still-grey people into action. The process sparks the color in all of them.]]
* TheChewToy: The rival basketball team. After all, their sole purpose for existing is to lose to the Pleasantville team.
* ComingOfAgeStory: When people of all age ranges step outside their formula lifestyle, symbolized by the transition to color. The whole film is an allegory for CharacterDevelopment and almost chronicles the rise of the teenager, TheFifties coming of age as a decade if you will.
* CrapsaccharineWorld: Pleasantville gradually reveals itself to be one. It looks bright and sunny (as bright as black and white can be) but everyone is either deeply repressed, very bigoted or in Bill's case, going through an existential crisis.
* CulturePolice: Utilized as the presence of two kids from the real world starts making a small town from a sitcom set in an idealized version of TheFifties more and more real. One particularly [[{{Anvilicious}} non-subtle]] scene visually features an angry mob breaking into a store and tearing paintings apart -- then moving on to burn books. The town establishes a Code of Conduct prohibiting all recorded music except "Pat Boone, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Jack Jones, the marches of John Philip Sousa or 'The Star Spangled Banner'."
* CutAndPasteSuburb: The entire town of Pleasantville, with a generic city hall, one instance each of a soda shop, a hat store, a general store, a clothing store, a fire station, a high school, a library, and a designated Lovers Lane.
* ADateWithRosiePalms: Betty the housewife after getting the sex talk from her "daughter" Mary Sue/Jennifer. This is so out of character and against the ways of Pleasantville's reality, it ''sets a tree in front of the house on fire''.
* DeadTVRemoteGag: David and Jennifer break their remote and can't interact with the television (due to it being very new and lacking any buttons and knobs), leading the magic TV repairman to come to the door and give them a new remote that sends the siblings to Pleasantville, kick-starting the plot. {{Lampshaded}} by Jennifer, only for David to remark that the TV set is new enough that it doesn't work without a remote.
* DeconstructiveParody: Of 50's sitcoms and nostalgia for the era.
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: {{Lampshaded}} when Jennifer points out how absurd the concept of being in a TV show from the 1950s is:
-->'''Jennifer:''' And I still don't see why we're doing this!\\
'''David:''' Because we're supposed to be in school.\\
'''Jennifer:''' We're supposed to be at home, David. [[LampshadeHanging We're supposed to be in COLOR!]]
* {{Descriptiveville}}: The town is an actual 1950's sitcom town. It is, indeed, quite pleasant.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything:
** Not that the movie's subtle about its parallels with a cultural revolution. The signs discriminating against non-monochrome people even read "No Coloreds".
** The scene where Bud and his girlfriend are in Lover's Lane. She tempts him into eating a red apple. Now what [[Literature/TheBible biblical story]] involves eating a certain Forbidden Fruit?
** The still-grey people of Pleasantville [[ThoseWackyNazis burning books]].
* DomesticApplianceDisaster: The all-male bowling club has a member named Roy who was asked, as a proof of the new anarchy, to show the back of his shirt hidden under his jacket. It has an iron-shaped mark burned into it. How did it happen? Apparently, Roy's wife was distracted because she was "thinking".
* DramaticThunder: When George returns home to an (unknown to him at the time) empty house, devoid of his wife, his kids and his [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking dinner]], he announces "Honey, I'm home!". The heavens immediately respond with a loud crash.
** This also happens during the scene when the TV Repairman interacts with the teens near the beginning of the movie. The teens appear aware of the odd thunder, looking up in mild confusion when it strikes.
* DysfunctionJunction: Two bickering siblings go into a 50's sitcom, where it's slowly revealed that all the characters are either repressed one way or another, or deeply bigoted.
* {{Dystopia}}: How Pleasantville appears to really be.
* FantasticRacism: Newly technicolorized people are referred to as "colored", a slur used mainly against blacks (or anyone who isn't white). Ironically, said "colored" characters are still white.
* FeminineWomenCanCook:
** Betty Parker takes care of her family and it's demonstrated by making extremely lavish breakfasts and dinners. At the end of the movie, she makes David promise he will eat wholesome.
** Margaret, a gorgeous cheerleader baked cookies for her LoveInterest. Originally, it was Whitey, but she's charmed with David. She gives him cookies and it kicks off their romance.
* FisherKing[=/=]KeystoneArmy: The entire town goes technicolor and connects to the rest of the Earth after both [[spoiler:George and The Mayor]] are changed in quick succession. Either character(or both) might be considered the Fisher King as the former was [[spoiler:the last of the in-show "Protagonist Family" to change]] and sets off an entire crowd when he does change while the latter [[spoiler:is the highest authority in the town]] and is the only character to actually be shown changing on-screen.
* FisherKingdom: When David and Jennifer first enter the TV show, they're turned monochrome and adopt the clothing of the world around them, and take on the roles of pre-existing characters, complete with friends and histories. As far as everyone else is concerned, they've been there all along.
* GenreSavvy: David, due to ''Pleasantville'' being his favorite show.
* GenreShift: The movie starts out as a straight TrappedInTVLand comedy, but then becomes something more weighty when the changes in the town have more serious ramifications.
* GoodParents: Betty and George; despite all the chaos happening, they both love "Bud" and "Mary Sue."
* GroinAttack: When still-grey people begin a large fire to throw books into, Skip is seen trying to wrestle Jennifer's copy of ''Literature/LadyChatterleysLover''--a book she actually liked--away from her, and this is how she disarms him and reclaims the book.
* HappyRain: David is joyous when it starts raining for the first time ever in Pleasantville. Other colored teens and Betty with Bill love it also.
* HeldGaze: Betty and Bill when the latter comes to the Parkers' house. David awkwardly has to break it up.
* {{Homage}}:
** The set in the courtroom scene, and the segregation of the "colored" characters is very similar to ''Film/ToKillAMockingbird''.
** David's reaction the first time it rains in Pleasantville is almost identical to a shot in ''Film/TheShawshankRedemption''. However, this is unintentional according to WordOfGod, who said that he didn't realize he did "the Shawshank shot" until a friend pointed it out when it was released.
* {{Housewife}}: Betty is supposed to be the epitome of this trope in-universe, but once she learns about sex from Jennifer, it begins a transformation of her character.
* HumansAreWhite: Not a single ethnic minority resident in Pleasantville. Not one.
* IChooseToStay: [[spoiler:Jennifer decides to stay as she reasons with how badly she was failing back in reality, there is no way she could get into a good college]].
* IntimateArtistry: When they begin to explore their feelings, Bill paints a brightly colored nude mural of Betty on the soda shop windows as an act of rebellion against the CulturePolice and also as an expression of their newfound relationship.
* JerkassHasAPoint: Jennifer was originally a very selfish snob, and her decision to shake up the world is for less-than-noble reasons. However, even David comes to realize that his sister has a point.
%% * KarmicTrickster: The TV repairman.
* KubrickStare: George has one at the bowling alley after [[spoiler:he came to the house while Betty decides to leave George, it's raining in Pleasantville for the first time, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and there's no dinner.]]]]
* LampshadeHanging: David is very genre savvy, and constantly points out tropes as they happen in-universe (but not for the movie as a whole). He even tries to warn his sister against [[DefiedTrope defying tropes]].
* LettingHerHairDown: Inverted by Mary Sue/Jennifer. She originally wears her hair loose but as she discovers the joy of reading and becomes studious, she wears her hair up or tied in a high ponytail.
* LiteralMetaphor: Pleasantville residents become colorized when they act as who they really are. In other words, they're literally showing their "true colors".
* LoveEpiphany: David gets George to realize exactly why he misses Betty, and it's not for the cooking and cleaning she does.
* LoveTriangle: Part of Betty's awakening is cheating on her husband with the guy who owns the malt shop. (One of the odder moments in the film, as Betty has a pregnant "moment" with Bill when they first meet that comes out of nowhere.)
* MaltShop: Being a stereotypical 50's sitcom town, one is featured as a prime hangout for the town's teens.
* MarySue: {{Invoked}} in the form of the perfect, sweet sister character named Mary Sue -- although once Jennifer assumes her role, this quickly ends.
* MaybeEverAfter: The film ends with [[spoiler:Betty and Bill sitting on a bench, completely uncertain of what the future holds for them for the first time in their lives. [[TrailersAlwaysSpoil This scene is used near the end of the trailer.]]]]
* MeaningfulName: What's the name of the sweet, perfect girl in ''Pleasantville''? MarySue.
** One of the bad guys in the show is nicknamed "Whitey" to emphasize the race allegory of the film, for those few that were still unaware of it despite the "No Coloreds" sign.
* MonochromeCasting: 50s sitcoms were in fact lily-white, but one couldn't be faulted for thinking a movie so concerned with racism and culture change could have found a way around this.
* MonochromeToColor: The film has the two main characters Jennifer and David TrappedInTVLand in the world of a black and white TV show called Pleasantville. As they interact more with that world and cause the people in it to act more individualistic like people in the real world it gains more and more people and objects with [[SplashOfColor Splashes Of Color]], until by the end of the movie the world of Pleasantville is fully color just like the real world.
* NobodyPoops: There aren't any toilets. When inspected, the stalls turn out to be empty. Safe to assume NoPeriodsPeriod applies as well for the same reason.
* NostalgiaAintLikeItUsedToBe: Parodied and ultimately subverted; the world of the show is initially the rosy idea of TheFifties that everyone loves to reminisce about, but once the "colour infection" starts to spread, the uglier side of the decade (such as "racial" and gender discrimination) is gradually reflected.
* ObsessiveCompulsiveBarkeeping: Bill wiping down the soda shop's countertop in his introductory scene. He'd been at it so long that he had worn down the vinyl into a circular smear.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted. In the TV series, both the mother and one of Mary Sue's friends are named "Betty".
* RomanticRain: It starts raining on David and Margaret's date.
* RuleOfSymbolism: The movie makes an [[Literature/TheBible Adam and Eve]] allusion twice [[spoiler: the first time when Jennifer sleeps with Skip, setting into motion Pleasantville becoming more "realistic." The second time is less subtle, with Margaret giving an apple to David.]]
* ScrewDestiny: David's view is initially to follow the plots of the show by heart, but he eventually comes to embrace this trope.
* SeeminglyWholesomeFiftiesGirl: Played with, where a girl from our day and age ends up stepping into this role... and by the time the movie's done, ''every girl in town'' is like that to some extent, except the girl who started the behavior.
* SexlessMarriage: All of the marriages in Pleasantville, at least until the protagonists start shaking things up.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: The world of Pleasantville starts out with the dial pegged on Idealism, and steadily moves it over to Realism.
* SoWhatDoWeDoNow: The end of the movie:
--> '''George:''' Do you know what's going to happen now?
--> '''Betty:''' No, I don't. Do you know what's going to happen?
--> '''George:''' (''chuckles'') No... I don't. [''Camera pans over to Betty, then back to where George sat'']
--> '''Bill:''' [''Sitting in George's chair''] I guess I don't either.
* SplashOfColor: The town is in black-and-white until our heroes begin encouraging the natives to think for themselves. Ironically, David and Jennifer are not the first to change; they too must grow as people -- Jennifer complains she is one of the last to change despite [[ReallyGetsAround having more sex than anybody else in town]], but this teaches her it's not all about sex.
* StandardFiftiesFather: George Parker, Bud and Mary Sue's father.
* StayInTheKitchen: This was expected of every wife in the show. Betty's failure to have dinner ready for her husband one night sets off one of the major changes.
* StealthPun: Some early film posters colored "tv" differently from the rest of the title.
* StepfordSuburbia: Pleasantville is not as happy as it seems. People of Pleasantville gradually realize they have passions and desires that might not correspond to their scripted role.
* SweaterGirl: Jennifer is taken aback when she puts on the typical sweater and bullet bra.
--> '''Jennifer:''' I could, like, kill a guy with these things.
* TheTalk: ZigZagged, in that it's a teenage daughter giving it to her ''mother'', and then when the mother is sure the father won't be interested, the daughter points out that [[ADateWithRosiePalms the man is actually dispensable]].
* TemptingApple: David is offered an apple by his girlfriend in a film all about a [[TrappedInTVLand fictional town's]] loss of innocence.
* TheThemeParkVersion: Although Pleasantville the town might appear to be taken straight from a 1950s sitcom, sitcoms of that era were not actually that simple for the most part; references to pop culture, the outside world and even sexuality occurred on even the strictest shows.
* TrappedInTVLand: How the film starts. [[GenreShift It's not necessarily how it ends, though.]]
* UmbrellaOfTogetherness: David gives Margaret a red umbrella which he found among theatre props she doesn't know what it is at first, but she loves it. They later share a kiss, hiding under the umbrella.
* TheUnfairSex: Set up as if it's going to be played straight, but [[TakeAThirdOption takes a different path]]. The wife who finds another love interest is portrayed sympathetically... but so is her husband, who simply doesn't understand how she feels, and his defining moment is realizing how much he loves her. The movie ends with all three noting that they don't know how this will turn out.
* WeirdnessSearchAndRescue: The film had the TV Repairman, who instigated the TrappedInTVLand plot, and then ineffectually tried to stop the fallout from it.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: What happened to the old Bud and Mary Sue? You'd think that even the old Bud would come back once David leaves.
* WhenDimensionsCollide: What the protagonists' presence does to Pleasantville. Everything is excessively pleasant (as well as lacking colour, there is no rain, crime, homelessness, fire, sex or toilets). Throughout the film their actions impact the world around them and colours and concepts from the real world (like fire, sex, colour and rain) start to appear as a result.
* WrapAround: Early in the film, the town's topology is such that someone going off one side of the town would end up on the other side.
* YearInsideHourOutside: A week in ''Pleasantville'' is half an hour in the real world presumably, because many TV sitcom episodes are 30 minutes in length and are usually broadcast a week apart. The ''Pleasantville'' episodes, however, are shown here in a marathon.