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

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

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.