In the new dramedy from director Garry Marshall, Lindsay Lohan plays Rachel, a young foul-mouthed booze-hound with a rebellious streak. In other words, if you believe TMZ.com and the other gossip rags, it’s art imitating life.
Instead of shipping her off to a teen boot camp her mother (Felicity Huffman) does something much worse. She arranges for Rachel to stay with her grandmother (Jane Fonda) in the hopes that some good old fashioned common sense will do the girl some good. Grandma Georgia is a bit of a tyrant, a woman who lives by a very strict moral code, propped up with more rules than Carter has little liver pills.
At first Rachel doesn’t seem cut out for small town life. She seduces a local Mormon boy, is rude to everyone and dresses as though she’s about to go clubbing on the Sunset Strip, not to a potluck supper at the local church. When a dark secret is revealed about her past, we begin to understand why she is such a handful, but it could have serious repercussions for everyone in her life.
The trailer for Georgia Rule makes it look like a heart-warming comedy, but that’s a bit misleading. There are some laughs, but the dark subject matter, including alcoholism, nymphomania and child molestation, keep the tone of the movie on the heavy-duty side. Marshall has been down this road before, he did, after all make a feel-good movie about prostitution called Pretty Woman, but here his instincts let him down. The characters are all too shrill to bond with an audience; the cross generational relationships are way too two dimensional; the supporting characters are little more than plot devices to move the story from point “a” to point “b” and the all-is-well-that-ends-well final act rings false.
His best move was the casting of Lohan in the Lolita role. She plays off her tabloid image nicely, although overall her Rachel is a little one-note. To be fair, it’s not really her fault. The script gives her little to do other than play that old chestnut, the spoiled brat who is actually wise and wonderful underneath the heavy veil of her snotty attitude.
Huffman brings more to her role as a desperate mother, daughter and wife, trying to sort out the mess she’s made of her life, while at the same time trying to salvage what’s left of her shredded relationships with Rachel and Georgia. Fonda fares better as the cantankerous moral center of the film. In some scenes she seems to be channeling her father’s famous “old coot” role in On Golden Pond.
Ultimately though, Georgia Rule is Lohan’s movie, and while it doesn’t shed much light on the character in the film, it may offer a glimpse of what it’s like hang out with Lohan on a Saturday night.