Movie Review of Georgia Rule (2007)

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Review #458 of 365
Movie Review of Georgia Rule (2007) [R] 113 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $7.75
Where Viewed: United Artists Denver Pavilions Stadium 15, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 11 May 2007
Time: 8:35 p.m.
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer
DVD Release Date: 4 September 2007


Directed by: Garry Marshall (The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement)
Written by: Mark Andrus (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jane Fonda (Monster-in-Law) • Lindsay Lohan (Bobby) • Felicity Huffman (Transamerica) • Dermot Mulroney (Zodiac) • Garrett Hedlund (Eragon) • Cary Elwes (Walk the Talk)

Soundtrack: order the CD below

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
I can rarely recall a mother / daughter/ granddaughter film as raw, evocative, and emotionally charged, as the Garry Marshall's unexpected Georgia Rule starring Jane Fonda as Georgia, Felicity Huffman as Lilly, and Lindsay Lohan as Rachel. Perfectly cast, including the men: Simon (Dermot Mulroney)--town veterinarian father figure to Rachel and former love interest for Lilly, Harlan (Garrett Hedlund)—town pretty boy with a 6th grade pledged Mormon girlfriend about whom he's starting to have some doubts after meeting Rachel, and Arnold (Cary Elwes)—Lilly's powerful laywer second husband with a did he or didn't he secret. Badgirl, Lilly, has been into drugs, sex, and alcohol driving her mother and step-father to the bring. Their solution after she drops the ball on her Vassar housing forms is to ship her off to live with her grandmother whom she's not seen in year in a tiny town in Idaho far from her life in the lap of luxury in San Francisco.

"…carries an overwhelming stench of a whiteboard marker run wild during a pitch session where somebody was working wildly to come up with a vehicle to bring Fonda, Huffman, and Lohan together on the same set and see what would happen."
Long estranged from her own mother, Lilly does not relish the trip of taking her daughter by car, she's afraid to fly, to leave her off with the woman she worked so hard to stay away from most of her adult life. Their relationship has consisted of unwelcome crystal vases sent and key holidays and then hidden away in a closet still in the boxes. A major blow up between Lilly and Rachel on the drive, lands Rachel stranded in the middle of nowhere without transportation to her grandmother's house. Lilly knows how resourceful her daughter is, though, so she doesn't worry about her finding her way home. After a spat with her mother, she departs in her Mercedes with instructions to be phoned if Rachel fails to show inside of three hours. Fortunately, Lilly is right about Rachel who scores herself a possible new love interest in the form of Harlan as well as a ride in a fine convertible driven by the guy whom she does not know will soon be her boss, Simon. Their exchange in the car solidifies the harsh exterior Rachel dons to protect herself from the truly dark emotional state she's been put into due to the complicated and tragic circumstances of her pre-teen and early teen years. There could be a solid reason for her grasping at a rebellious, overly sexualized nature, her turning to drugs, and her failing to conform to the expectations of her parents. No matter for right now, for now she is living under Georgia Rule. Her grandmother has been set in her way for decades. Meals at set times, no using the Lord's name in vain, no eating with your hands, etc. The two demonstrate they are of equal willingness to stand up for themselves in a battle of wills, something that Rachel has not seen much of in her former life, and quickly begin to build a mutual trust. It is not until Rachel, in her own difficult way, tries to help Simon move on from the grief of losing his wife and child in an accident, and reveals a dark secret of her own, that the flood gates open up on this film's story.

Volatile, shocking, and raw, this film confronts head-on the results of inappropriate, immoral, an criminal conduct and the devastating impact it can have on a the life of a sexually abused child. Getting through this, dealing with it, navigating all the emotional turmoil, and confronting it may represent one of the most complex family dynamics ever. Far more common than is known as the shame and guilt associated with it forces many victims to repress the memories and work hard to build a shell to protect themselves from the adults taken advantage of them. This film offers some indelible insight into the depths of pain of not only the victim but those guardians that were asleep at the wheel while the abuse was ongoing. It also clearly shows the denial as well as sense of entitlement of the abusers whose likewise mental gymnastics and double life are the sign of a very confused mind in desperate need of immediate psychiatric counseling. Fonda, Huffman, and Lohan all three deliver supercharged performances. Garrett Hedlund takes easily to his role as the super naïve guy taken under the spell of Rachel. Mulroney has it right too with his role as the one stable element in Rachel's life. Elwes as the complicated bad guy with a bedeviling, believable charm comes across well too.

The downfall, the film's Achilles heel, though comes in three areas: unfinished ideas, inexplicably odd dialogue, and a left field final line. Explaining each of these in a bit of detail…

First, there are many unfinished ideas. Lilly was an old flame of Simon's. There is some indication that the two probably should have been married. They rekindle now that Simon's a widower and Lilly sees her marriage in shambles. But, what then? Unresolved. Lilly spends hours going through Georgia's knife collection to find the perfect one to use on Arnold when she next sees him. Clearly that's a bad idea, but there's no resolution. When she sees Arnold, she seems to have forgotten all about the knives or what they represented in her mind. Georgia baby sits for two little boys, one of whom gets an immediate nearly pre-pubescent crush on Rachel. These characters, however, were used to open some doors to issues that were never explored. One of the boys had a particularly embarrassing experience—some might say the most mortifying experience of a lifetime--but he was sort of left to wonder what just happened to him. Most of the town is shocked by Rachel's activities, attire, and foul mouth, not to mention her unknown intentions toward Harlan whom they perceive to be betrothed to June. Yet the overall impact on the town is not discussed which seems odd for such a small town where everyone knows literally everyone's business. All we get are some glances and stares. So, lots of unfinished ideas sort of like dangling participles: they are out there, unresolved, awaiting something. The film is rife with odd dialogue. Sometimes it seems as if some of the dialogue for the characters was rewritten later by other people so they do not speak with the same voice throughout. The ongoing thing is that everything in life is covered by a Georgia Rule, but sometimes she has no rule. Nothing comes to mind. She's perfectly silent. Other times she seems to be making these up as she goes to fit the circumstances. Finally, the final line of the film comes totally out of left field. It's absolutely one of the oddest final lines for a movie I can honestly say I can ever recall. Most of the time, honestly, I couldn't tell you what the line was for a million dollars. Usually, it's so perfect so fitting, it just flows. I've often thought that of any line in a script or a book, the final line is the one the writer must toil over for nearly as long as it took to write the entire book. How does one capture the essence of everything and just finish. For this film, though, it's so odd it must be discussed. It might be a spoiler of sorts, so wait to see the film before reading the rest of this section. The final line is Harlan saying, "Ms. __________, I just want you to know that when I return from my mission it is my intention to marry your granddaughter." Huh? After all that's just happened, this is a completely off the wall, odd, thing to say. Actually, it's fin and nice and all that, maybe, but in the context of what has just happened, it's just weird. And, sadly, that's a work that despite the best of intentions of writer Mark Andrus who did not bury his head in the sand in writing this film, fell flat. You cannot put some sort of happy and uplifting line at the end of this film. Harlan seemingly doesn’t know the extent of Rachel's abuse, he doesn't know the true person to whom he has just pledged his love, and she's done nothing really during the time they've known each other to prove herself to be the one for him or vice versa.

In the end, the film carries an overwhelming stench of a whiteboard marker run wild during a pitch session where somebody was working wildly to come up with a vehicle to bring Fonda, Huffman, and Lohan together on the same set and see what would happen. It's too bad because the controversial topics of the film and a candid approach to them are all too needed.

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Cast Members
Jane FondaLindsay LohanFelicity Huffman
Dermot MulroneyGarrett HedlundCary Elwes
Garry Marshall
Mark Andrus

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Georgia Rule (2007) Review-lite [150-word cap]
An unexpected and odd film that came without much notice in one of the summer month's most electrifying with Spider-man, Shrek 3, and Pirates 3, this Garry Marshall-directed film starring Jane Fonda, Felicity, Huffman, and Lindsay Lohan, dives head-first into an incredibly volatile and controversial topic without checking to see if there is water in the pool. The result is a splattering of unfinished , disjointed ideas, strange dialogue, and a final line that has to be awarded the worst in film history. Unfortunately, it takes a long time in, despite rampant clichés, to figure out this isn't going well, and it's not going to go any better, and the best thing to do is to run out of the theatre now.

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