Pretty Persuasion

"Terrible"

Pretty Persuasion Review


Like some sketch-comedy Frankenstein monster made from the cutting-room entrails of "Clueless," "The Opposite of Sex," "To Die For," "Election" and "Heathers," the puerile social satire "Pretty Persuasion" is stinging only insomuch as its unsophisticated wit and overwhelming smugness are painful to sit through.

Writer Skander Halim and director Marcos Siega clearly watched all these movies before cranking out this disingenuous dark comedy about a manipulative, 15-year-old private-school tart (Evan Rachel Wood) who accuses a teacher (Ron Livingston) of sexual harassment just to get famous. But they didn't learn a thing from those droll, original pictures about sardonic nuance or creating a feeling of camaraderie towards an unsympathetic anti-heroine.

Wood ("Thirteen"), in a rudimentary role far beneath her proven talent, never shies away from the dangerously sharp edges of Beverly Hills brat Kimberly Joyce, who takes down her two best friends (and fellow accusers), an ambitious TV reporter (Jane Krakowski) and her father's business in her pursuit of her 15 minutes. But there's no wicked delight to be had in her machinations, which are so transparently premeditated that all the other characters in the movie (detectives, judges and lawyers included) have to be certifiable morons in order to advance the plot.

Halim's screenplay is clumsy and crude (to shoehorn a media frenzy into the story, Kimberly "waives her right to anonymity"), and the movie's cheeky, self-satisfied humor is telegraphed and predictable. Siega fades out on the line "These things never go to trial," then immediately fades in on the reporter saying, "So day one of the Roxbury trial begins..."

As a farce, "Pretty Persuasion" fails because the world it depicts bears little resemblance to the realities it aims to lampoon: The teacher is arrested -- during a class -- on nothing more than the girls' accusations, and the tabloid TV journalist answers fan mail on the air during her live news reports. The movie is far more concerned about expediency, which is why we get nonsense lines like, "Her IQ test broke the computer" when Halim wants to convince us that Kimberly is smart (as well as wicked), even though there's scant other evidence to suggest it.

As a character comedy, it's even worse since none of the roles are developed beyond their service to the particular scenes they populate. A young actress named Adi Schnall gets the worst of this as an insultingly stereotypical Muslim girl -- meek and ignorant under her hijab -- who takes heaps of cultural abuse from Kimberly, but keeps hanging around her for no explored reason. (As Kimberly's self-absorbed pig of a father, James Woods does create a vivid caricature of parental irresponsibility, but only by being so ravenously over-the-top it seems as if director Siega kept him chained up and unfed between scenes.)

While the filmmakers fancy "Pretty Persuasion" an acerbic rumination on the rampant egoism, the cult of celebrity and the reckless litigiousness of 21st century American culture, it plays like nothing more than the boorish, unrefined whims of two adolescent armchair pundits.



Pretty Persuasion

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 25th May 2006

Box Office USA: $58.6k

Distributed by: Samuel Goldwyn Films

Production compaines: REN-Mar Studios, Prospect Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 32%
Fresh: 25 Rotten: 52

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Kimberly Joyce, as Grace Anderson, as Morgan, as Rick, as Randa, as Brittany, as Troy, as Emily Klein, as Headmaster Charles Meyer, as Roger Nicholl, as Kathy Joyce, as Josh Horowitz, as Dave, as Percy Anderson, as Kenny, Mike Erwin as Barry

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.