Strong performances and its R rating help keep Georgia Rule from being a completely overemotional, Lifetime TV mush festbut only slightly.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: Rich, spoiled, rebellious teen gets sent to her eccentric grandmother's home in a small town when said teenager's own mother can't take it anymore. Said mother is also estranged from said grandmother, while deep, dark family secrets are exposed and life lessons learned. There isn't much else to Georgia Rule, save for the fact that irresponsible teen Rachel (Lindsay Lohan) uses sex as a way to connect with any man she meets; prim, properand raging alcoholicmom Lilly (Felicity Huffman) has made a career out of staying away from the place she grew up, God knows why; and matriarch Georgia (Jane Fonda) forces everyone around her to adhere to her own set of steadfast rulesdinner at six, no drinking in the house, no taking the Lord's name in vainas a way to control life. She also wears pretty hip clothes for a granny.
Yes, this is the movie in which the producer gave Lindsay Lohan a very public slap on the wrist for partying too much and being continually late to the set. But here's a thought: Maybe Lohan just took the Method style of acting a little too far. I mean, she IS supposed to be reckless, sexually promiscuous and wild childish as Rachel, so maybe Lohan stayed in character even when the camera turned off? Yeah, right. To be fair, Lohan does a nice job in Georgia Rule, realistically portraying the troubled teen Lolita, who lashes out in ways teenagers in her predicament often do. Huffman and Fonda are also in top form, especially Huffman, who goes through the most emotional range as the deeply wounded Lilly. Problem is, we aren't quite sure why she's such a mess since Georgia doesn't seem to be that horrible of a mother. Nevertheless, Huffman is spot on. As is Fonda, whose scenes with Huffman give the film added credibility. In a nice supporting turn, Dermot Mulroney plays the town's veterinarian/doctor, who was Lilly's one-time flame but now has to bat away the seductive Rachel. It's kind of uncomfortable at times.
With director Garry Marshall's name attached, expect the sap to pour freely. It's just the type of stuff he likes to direct, made apparent by his previous efforts, such as everything from old standards Pretty Woman and Beaches to the sugary The Princess Diaries. It also doesn't help that Georgia is written by another schmaltz-producer, Mark Andrus (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Life As a House). But with Georgia, they both tackle some pretty serious family issues, along with an R rating (the f-word is thrown around quite a bit), which allows the film to sometimes rise above its over-the-top sentimentality and made-for-TV sensibilities. And according to actors who have worked with Marshall, he really doesn't direct a film as much as hosts one, so it does indeed look like the actors are having some fun. I just wonder what an old timer like Marshall--who has made careers for actresses such as Julia Roberts and Anne Hathawaymight have said to young Lindsay for holding up his production because he doesn't look like someone who tolerates such behavior. Ah, to be a fly on the wall...
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.