"There are some places that the road doesn't go in a circle. There are some places where the road keeps going."
A deliberately troperrific 1998 movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Tobey Maguire, who play main characters Jennifer and David, a pair of siblings who — during an argument over who gets to use the big TV in the living room break the remote — wind up Trapped in TV Land due to a strange TV repairman 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 Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best, 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 The Giver.
This movie provides examples of the following tropes:
Brick Joke: 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.) (Later) Fireman watching the tree burn: Where's the cat?
Character Development: 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.
The Chew Toy: The rival basketball team. After all, their sole purpose for existing is to lose to the Pleasantville team.
Coming-of-Age Story: When people of all age ranges step outside their formula lifestyle, symbolized by the transition to color. The whole film is an allegory for Character Development and almost chronicles the rise of the teenager, The Fifties coming of age as a decade if you will.
Cut-and-Paste Suburb: The entire town of Pleasantville, with a generic city hall, one instance of 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.
A Date with Rosie Palms: 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.
Dead TV Remote Gag: David and Jennifer break their remote and are too lazy to change the channel by using the controls on the TV, 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.
Actually, Jennifer lampshades this, only for David to remark that the TV set is new enough to where it doesn't work without a remote.
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 biblical story involves eating a certain Forbidden Fruit?
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Jennifer goes on a date with the town jock, who she quickly manipulates into having sex with her. This is Played for Laughs, though at the time, the boy had no idea what sex was (or for that matter, STD's or even pregnancy), was visibly freaked out, and even mistook his erection for an "illness." Had the sexes been reversed, the boy would have been vilified.
Dueling Movies: Released in 1998, the same year as The Truman Show, both films center on folks living happily and unknowingly in a television world who eventually learn of the wonderful challenges human nature and actual reality provide.
Fantastic Racism: Newly colorized people are referred to as "coloreds", the same term commonly used in states in the United States where segregation occurred.
Fisher Kingdom: 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.
Genre Savvy: David, due to Pleasantville being his favorite show.
Genre Shift: The movie starts out as a straight Trapped in TV Land comedy, but then becomes something more weighty when the changes in the town have more serious ramifications.
The set in the courtroom scene, and the segregation of the "colored" characters is very similar to To Kill a Mockingbird.
David's reaction the first time it rains in Pleasantville is almost identical to a shot in The Shawshank Redemption. However, this is unintentional according to Word of God, who said that he didn't realize he did "the Shawshank shot" until a friend pointed it out when it was released.
I Choose to Stay: 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.
Jerkass Has a Point: 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.
Lampshade Hanging: 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 averting tropes.
Love Triangle: 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.)
Mary Sue: Invoked in the form of the perfect, sweet sister character named Mary Sue — although once Jennifer assumes her role, this quickly ends
Nobody Poops: There aren't any toilets. When inspected, the stalls turn out to be empty.
Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be: Parodied and ultimately subverted; the world of the show is initially the rosy idea of The Fifties 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.
One Steve Limit: Averted. In the TV series, both the mother and one of Mary Sue's friends are named "Betty."
Rule of Symbolism: The movie makes an Adam and Eve allusion twice the first time when Jennifer sleeps with Slip, setting into motion Pleasantville becoming more "realistic." The second time is less subtle, with Margaret giving an apple of David.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The world of Pleasantville starts out with the dial pegged on Idealism, and steadily moves it over to Realism. Although, in a way, it moves the dial from one kind of Idealism to another kind of Idealism—everyone in the new Pleasantville uses their freedom in positive, life-affirming ways. No one in the colorized Pleasantville winds up drinking to excess or beating women or committing crimes or doing anything bad.
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.
Splash of Color: 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 having more sex than anybody else in town, but this teaches her it's not all about sex.
Stealth Pun: Some early film posters colored "tv" differently from the rest of the title.
Sweater Girl: Jennifer is taken aback when she puts on the typical sweater and bullet bra.
Jennifer: I could, like, kill a guy with these things.
The Theme Park Version: 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.
The Unfair Sex: Set up as if it's going to be played straight, but 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.