"Pretty Persuasion" is the kind of teenage movie where James Woods can play the heroine's dad and not be the worst person in the story.

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The movie, directed by Marcos Siega and written by Skander Halim, exists uneasily somewhere between comedy and satire. Anderson gives his wife (Selma Blair) a skirt like the students wear, and asks her to read an essay while he "grades" her, it might be funny if the movie itself were not so much more lethal.

What the movie gets right is that sexual molestation, especially against attractive, articulate students in rich neighborhoods, is a publicity magnet.

The story attracts the predatory TV reporter Emily Klein (Jane Krakowski), who turns it into a running commentary on the virus of social depravity, without realizing she's a carrier. Anderson loses his job and the case is taken to trial, and the rest you will learn.

Wood plays Kimberly Joyce, the product of a Bel Air home where malice is served at every meal.

Her millionaire father Hank (James Woods) is aggressively hateful, a fast-talker who mows down the opposition in every conversation and amuses himself by telling racist jokes to his daughter and her new stepmother Kathy (Jaime King).

What Kimberly learns at home, she improves on at school.

Her sidekicks are Brittany (Elisabeth Harnois) and Randa (Adi Schnall), an Arab girl who gets to listen to Kim's ranking of the races (Arabs come last, but Kim is gentle when she tells Randa).

What Randa thinks is hard to say, since she rarely speaks, is intimidated and dominated by Kimberly, and has been chosen as a mascot, not a friend.

Kimberly dislikes her English teacher, Percy Anderson (Ron Livingston), partly because of his classroom matter, partly because she dislikes all teachers, and partly because she suspects (correctly) that he harbors lustful thoughts for them.