Movie Review: Georgia Rule

By Amy Lamare, May 12, 2007

It’s not that Georgia Rule (GARUL) is a bad movie. It isn’t. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it. I did, I think. It’s just that well- trailers would lead us to believe Georgia Rule is a comedy. The presence of director Garry Marshall (GAMAR) solidifies my assumptions that this is a broad, lighthearted comedy about strained familial relationships.

It is. And yet it isn’t. It is a film about strained familial relationships. It has some comedic moments. The overall tone of this movie though, and the family secret at the heart of the strained familial relationships is dark and uncomfortable and at times tedious.

Jane Fonda (JFOND) is Georgia, grandmother to Lindsay Lohan’s (LLOHA) Rachel. Felicity Huffman (FHUFF) is Lily, daughter to Georgia and mother to Rachel. Georgia has a set of rules she lives by, such as “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain, Georgia rule;” and hence, the title of the film. Lily fled the small Idaho town she grew up in and embarked on a life of alcoholism with brief respites to have Rachel and marry a wealthy San Francisco attorney. Cary Elwes (CELWE) plays Arnold, husband to Lily, step-father to Rachel.

You still with me?

Film opens on Lily and Rachel having a fight in Lily’s Mercedes on a lonely mountain road near the Idaho state line. Rachel exits the car in a huff. Lily drives off, leaving her 17-year-old daughter on a deserted highway in the middle of nowhere. Alone.

Rachel is being delivered to her grandmother Georgia in Hull, Idaho for some perceived offense she perpetrated against her mother and step-father. Nature of said offense is never made clear, but becomes less important as the true nature of the familial relations unfolds.

Rachel is discovered sleeping beneath the “Welcome to Idaho” sign by local boy Harlan and is deposited into the convertible of grandma’s buddy Simon for transportation into Hull. Harlan is played by Garrett Hedlund (GHEDL) and Simon is played by Dermot Mulroney (DMULR).

Once she arrives at her Grandmother’s house, we learn that Grandma has secured a summer job for Rachel as the receptionist in Simon’s bustling small town vet office. Harlan is both a Mormon and a virgin. We watch and wince as Rachel asserts her sexuality with unnatural ferocity.

Then there’s the revelation that explains Rachel’s behavior, banishment and ballsy moves. She takes it back. Then no, ooops, it really is true. We are tugged back and forth so many times on this issue that we, like Rachel, are not sure what is the truth and what is a lie. We, like Rachel, begin to wonder, if you tell a lie often enough, does it become the truth?

Grandma Georgia finds out the secret. Mama Lily comes rushing to Idaho. Much liquor is drunk and many fights are had but it is these scenes between Fonda, Huffman and Lohan that make up for the downright schizophrenic nature of the rest of the script. Once the women band together to right the wrongs that have happened both in the recent and distant past the film gains strength and momentum and purpose.

Overall, audiences are likely to feel misled by the advertising as film is very dark and at times uncomfortable to view. Evoking this visceral reaction in audiences is director Marshall’s specialty-though usually he plays it for laughs, not melodrama. Georgia Rule is a decent pic. Not great, but worthwhile enough for the performances of the three leading women.

The film opens in theaters on Friday, May 12.

This work is the property of Stock Exchange and Amy Lamare. It is not to be reused, reprinted or stolen under any conditions.

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