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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.67%
Worth A Look25%
Average: 22.22%
Pretty Bad: 19.44%
Total Crap: 16.67%

3 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Georgia Rule
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by Erik Childress

"Idaho? No, She-da-ho! OK, No More Lohan Jokes Please."
4 stars

Itís a little early in her career for Lindsay Lohan to be doing autobiographical projects. That quip in itself is as unfair as the paparazzi stalking every move she makes. But it is the world we live in and Lohanís private affairs have become a matter of public record. A closer association to the film at hand was a leaked memo by the filmís producer chastising Lohan for behavior disruptful to everyday shooting. Canít an actress go method without the moneymen writing press releases about her punchcard? Joking aside, the salacious aspects of Lohanís partying ways have usually trumped the seemingly equal amount of behind-the-scenes tales about talented people sheís worked with trying to find her the path. No less than Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda and Tina Fey have all recognized whatís clearly apparent about Ms. Lohan. Sheís an extremely talented actress when she wants to be and itís roles in films like Mean Girls and Georgia Rule that proves she can be one of the great ones.

One of the filmís central relationships is established right from the get-go with Lohanís Rachel choosing to walk the last 20 miles to grandmaís house than spend another tempestuous minute with mom Lilly (Felicity Huffman). Rachel just wants some peace for the summer and feels that grandma Georgia (Jane Fonda) will just stay out of her way. This is not the case though since Georgia refuses to be bullied around and sets the tone immediately by telling Rachel to go do something that most religions consider a sin. This is a girl that knows all about sin though (as evidenced by outfits probably made from a peccadillo-based fabric) and she knows how to push the buttons of the local males. She sizes up the local doctor, Simon (Dermot Mulroney) after he gives her a ride into town and she repeatedly offers a different kind of ride to Harlan (Garrett Hedlund), a local Mormon boy. Even one of Georgiaís neighbor boys hits puberty after wrestling around with her granddaughter.

Rachel appears to be nothing but a walking midriff of trouble, standing out amongst the downhome polite Idaho yokels. She will even nonchalantly drop an icky point about her sexual past to make a point about feeling sorry for oneself. This bombshell which begins to define her past behavior makes itís way back to her family and brings Lilly back into the picture and her alcoholic ways. Rachelís history of lies about drugs and alcohol make it hard for mom to believe this isnít just another attempt at jeopardizing the escape plan Lilly has made for herself after years of living under Georgiaís ďrule

In what could have been a tasteless guessing game as to Rachelís authenticity, itís Lohanís performance that makes this more than just tawdry theatrics. Lohan must walk a very thin edge in this role, controlling the extroverted side enough so that we donít despise her and yet only allowing the introverted moments out a half-inch at a time so that we understand her impetus for protecting not just herself, but her mother as well. It helps that Mark Andrusí script gives her the book smarts of poetry to make her more palatable than just another bubblehead adolescent. Lohan extends this subplot thoroughly however by being able to shift our own convictions about the truth, although just enough to question how we would react as a parent in the same position.

What separates Andrusí script from the tug-oí-war monstrosities of melodramatic overkill (many of which director Garry Marshall has taken part in) is by having a clear grasp of these characters and their inner conflicts rather than just all shrugs and frowns. When we first meet Rachel, itís easy to one-stop label her as spoiled, sexed-up and full of her own psychological head games to get what she wants. Wanting and needing are different beasts though and Rachel proves at times to be anything but, knowing when to turn the manners on. She illustrates the point not just at her new job in Simonís office but in trying to save her new friend, Harlan, from the embarrassment of indiscretions she initiated. The references to the Mormon religion (an element from Andrusí background) serve not to degrade its followers or preach an alternative to Christians in the crowd. Itís just another set of rules that people use to guide their lives, some for the betterment of themselves and others to impose their will on.

Georgia is representative of this middle plain. Described as not an official practioner, but adapting elements of the teachings, Georgiaís ďrulesĒ really arenít of the Cider House variety or, frankly, anything worth naming a movie after. Pretty simple requests, really. Wash the dishes. Get a job. Donít take the Lordís name in vain. At one point she has different Gin Rummy rules so you can expect she plays the ďfree parkingĒ way in Monopoly, but other than that sheís just trying to run a household and supply her girls with a little foundation. The more we learn about the love Georgia supposedly never provided, the more we discover two later generations unable to identify the concept while busy with their own rebellion. Rachelís questionable truth-telling leads her on a search to respect someone who would actually tell her ďnoĒ for the right reasons rather than as a response to her trying to reach out.

As stated earlier, itís the performances that make Georgia Rule standout. Fonda could have easily turned on the bitchy smothering that iced her return in Monster-in-Law, but actually becomes much more of a listener than the sort of outrageous Madea hypocrisy found in the works of Tyler Perry. Huffman manages to get away with playing drunk for half the film and not only does she avoid overplaying her inebriated moments, she gets sympathy for a flawed character forced into a decision that would be an easy one if the facts were as clear. Dermot Mulroney is saddled with the sad sack most of the way, but does get an important scene expressing his outrage of how the wrong path unfairly affected so many lives.

As such fate would have it, Lohan currently has a target on her back and has made her share of poor decisions. But Iím only interested in the professional ones. After fine work in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls, there was an admirable streak in maintaining her Disney ties with Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen and Herbie: Fully Loaded, but the magic kingdom couldnít be used as an excuse for Just My Luck. Roles in more prestige projects like Bobby and Robert Altmanís A Prairie Home Companion were buoyed by the focus on her dramatic weight loss and the fact that Emilio Estevez gave more depth to a blueberry cobbler. Lohan gets to belt this one out though and Andrusí script, while not up to his co-effort on As Good As It Gets, is better than the treacly Life as a House and Ya-Ya Sisterhood adaptation. I could certainly do without the 11th hour roadside confession of one character, but Marshall directs unobtrusively and keeps his usual comic moments to a bare minimum. I really hope that people can check their preconceived baggage about Marshall (Frankie & Johnny was the last film of his I liked back in 1991), their vacillation towards chick flick melodrama and especially Lohan because she has the proverbial ďitĒ and people should be seeking that side of her rather than the literal tit.

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originally posted: 05/11/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

6/28/10 art LINDSAY must have been as a high as a KITE,when she did this MESS! 1 stars
11/03/09 Darryl Great cast (Yes, Lohan CAN act) working well together in a very engaging film. 4 stars
1/06/09 FrankNFurter Cruelly underrated drama-com;it is entertaining fluff,but not the antichrist! 3 stars
7/02/08 art EVERYONE IN THIS FILM WAS A HAM 1 stars
4/19/08 Carol Baker This is mediocre. Jane Fonda's acting days are over 3 stars
4/14/08 mary The movie was good. Not your typical "Hollywood" movie. 4 stars
3/08/08 Danny Fonda miscast, but the rest were really good/believable. Entertaining film. 4 stars
10/08/07 Tiffany Losco This was a great movie! Lohan did an awesome job. 5 stars
9/10/07 Meriah This film left me laughing, crying and yelling at the screen. It is hands down my new fave. 5 stars
9/06/07 Jennifer Lohan is amazing in this movie, very well written, funny and not preachy 5 stars
8/07/07 stephanie amazing, beautiful film. The three leading ladies were amazing. 5 stars
7/03/07 William Goss Clumsy melodramedy swings wildly between unfunny gags and serious subject matter. 1 stars
6/22/07 jade The movie is brilliant and lindsay is amazing 5 stars
5/25/07 Rosie This was a great movie about the effects of child abuse and alcoholism. 5 stars
5/17/07 Marlena Should have been casted differently. 2 stars
5/12/07 Darkstar How any of these women are still working is a mystery to me, the film sucked ass. 1 stars
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  11-May-2007 (R)
  DVD: 04-Sep-2007

  N/A (15)
  DVD: 25-Feb-2008

  10-May-2007 (M)

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