Georgia Rule (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Not only does this start out as a traditional chick flick, but the
contrived opening exacerbates the distaste, with some of that
pseudo-snappy dialogue (Mark Andrus) common to the genre that generally
turns my stomach. Not clever; not funny. It drags on from there for
about 45 minutes, after which Lindsay Lohan overcomes the dubious script
and saves it from itself. While it has all the ingredients of the worst
of the class, a bad male and women in crisis, this doesn’t degenerate
into total bathos, thanks mainly to the electric Lohan. Make no mistake;
without Lindsay, this would be a dud.
The basic story is that there are three women, Grandmother Georgia (Jane
Fonda), Mother Lilly (Felicity Huffman), and Rachel (Lohan). Rachel has
severe behavioral problems; Lilly was a problem and is beset with bad
habits, smoking and alcohol; and all their problems can be traced back
to Georgia and her strict way of bringing up Lilly. Rachel has been
banished from San Francisco to a small town in Idaho to live with
Georgia for the summer, in the hope that it will put her on the straight
Thrown into the mix are three men. The saintly Simon (Dermot Mulroney),
a veterinarian who acts and practices as the small-town doctor, is so
pure he could have a halo around his head without anyone noticing.
Lilly’s husband, Arnold (Cary Elwes), who is Rachel’s stepfather, is the
allegedly bad guy. Harlon (Garrett Hedlund), is a small town boy who
becomes befuddled and intrigued by the sexually sophisticated Rachel.
They all give good accounts of themselves, especially Hedlund.
A weakness of the film I thought reprehensible is the way it treats
Lilly’s alcoholism with a wink and a nod. With rare exceptions (1962’s
Days of Wine and Roses), Hollywood has treated alcoholism as a
joke, something to be laughed at and with, and has rewarded this
treatment with honors (1982’s reprehensible Arthur, which
received two Oscars® and 4 nominations). Well, it’s not a joke. The way
Lilly drinks in this movie is not something she could just dance away
from, as she does at the end of the film. A responsible filmmaker would
not deal with alcoholism with the haughty disregard director Garry
Marshall gives it here. Alcoholism is far too serious a societal problem
to diminish it by treating as just a comic device.
While Huffman gives a very good performance, the game Fonda struggles
with a poorly crafted character whose take on life is a little hard to
swallow. Despite her effort, and Huffman’s, the movie belongs to Lohan.
She is as hot as any actress who has ever appeared on the screen with
her clothes on, and that includes Monroe and Harlow and Tierney. But
better than her natural sexiness, she grabs this role and takes it to
another level. This 20 year-old woman can act and can carry a film
containing a legend like Fonda. Huffman and Fonda may be capable
actresses, Lohan is a star in the old-fashioned sense of the word. The
film finally gets interesting, but what makes it special is Lindsay.
On the downside, the film accepts Bill Clinton’s definition that oral
sex is not “sex.” Some people (maybe 99% of the population?) might
disagree. Where there’s orgasm, there must be sex (Seinfeld set an even
stricter standard, opining that sex occurs whenever there’s nipple
But that’s neither here nor there when it comes to this film. For me, a
test of the quality of a film is whether I think about it afterwards.
Based on that, this is worth seeing, because I have thought about it
(well, Lohan, anyway) quite a bit.
May 9, 2007