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Georgia Rule

Starring Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan, Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes, Garrett Hedlund
Screenplay by Mark Andrus
Directed by Garry Marshall

IN SHORT: A chick flick without the tears. [Rated R for sexual content and some language. 109 minutes]

Let us pose this dramatic question: One character slams another character, with a baseball bat, in the gut. Is this action, to you, Funny or Dramatic? It can be both. With the name Garry Marshall attached to the film containing such action, the natural assumption would be "it's gonna be funny."

It's not.

Even heavy drama, which a film which includes alcoholism, abandonment and child abuse as plot points in a script that sends characters flying off their proverbial handles like Roman Candles spitting into the night, needs properly spaced humor to make the viewing bearable. Marshall doesn't allow a lot of it in this film, which features three generations of females in a family that fractured long before the littlest one was born coming to grips with each other.

We apologize for the run on sentences. This film is as exhausting as they are.

The"littlest one" of the three generations mentioned would be Rachel Wilcox (Lindsay Lohan). An out of control California kid just shy of legality, an inveterate liar and (implied) town slut, Rachel is dumped by her mother, Lilly (Felicity Huffman) at the Hull, Idaho homestead of Georgia Randall (Jane Fonda) for some small town civil behavior learnin'. Georgia is Lilly's mother. She's also seen her kidlet go off the deep end, Lilly having stormed out of the home thirteen years earlier, breaking away from that restrictive rule based environment which may be the only way to save Rachel. Georgia's rules are straightforward and unwavering. Meals are always served at a certain time. God's name is never to be taken in vain. You believe in Him. You work your tail off. You bust a rule and you get your mouth washed out with soap.

Dumping Rachel in a town whose moral fibre is about as rigid as you can get -- the screenwriter emphasizes that our femmes are the only Christians in a town of Mormons -- is akin to setting off fireworks in an explosives plant. It also means the film feels like it's rubbing our non-Mormon nose in righteousness, even as the moral division between religions is used to generate a wee bit o' humor and drive a subplot along. As seen here, the Mormons come off as childish, emotionally stilted (people) which may work for the story but doesn't jibe with any reality we know (and though limited, our contact with Mormons extends beyond seeing the Osmonds. The few we've met have all been upstanding devout people. I don't know how they'd react to what is on the big screen here.)

In fewer words, that means young Rachel gets to prey on all the available men in the community. The two in her sights is the local vet, Dr. Simon Ward (Dermot Mulroney), a man who, in a parallel universe, might have been her dad but here is her employer. The other male is the more age appropriate Tarzan... er, Harlan (Garrett Hedlund) who is about to leave town for a mandatory two years missionary work. When Rachel feels frisky . . . we won't say more then she will have to come to grips with the fact, at least in this town, that sex isn't about to get you everything you desire. At minimum, for us guys, Lohan sports lingerie most fine. No snide comments, ladies, Georgia Rule would otherwise be unbearable for the man you will lug to this film.

As the film moves into its second half, Rachel lets loose with the biggest accusation of 'em all. She was abused by her step-father, Arnold (Cary Elwes). This accusation sets in motion events that bring all three generations of women together, not all on the same side, and introduces said Simon (Dermot Mulroney) to the mix.

It also runs the story off a cliff. Remember, Rachel is an inveterate liar. Her stories change as often as her lingerie. Her story ultimately sorta kinda eventually makes some kind of logical sense, but far too late in the mix for us. When the lights came up, everyone ran for the exits.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Georgia Rule, he would have paid . . .


dateflick level. Guys, bear with it. This ain't for us. Ladies will make more emotional connections, and thus may get a better feeling about the film.

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