Rebellious teenager Rachel (Lindsay Lohan) screams, swears, drinks and lies. In desperation, her mother Lily (Felicity Huffman) drags her from their San Francisco home to the one place she swore she'd never return ... her own mother's Idaho house, for the pre-college break. Georgia (Jane Fonda) lives her life by a number of unbreakable rules, demanding anyone who shares her home do the same - God comes first and hard work comes a very close second. As Rachel sinks into her summer of misery, she shakes up the tiny Mormon town, wreaking havoc both inside and outside her dysfunctional family. When she reveals a terrible secret to the widowed town vet she has befriended, Simon (Dermot Mulroney), it gets back to Georgia, and of course to Lily, with devastating consequences. But is she telling the truth?
Review by Louise Keller:
When Lindsay Lohan's Rachel arrives in the small town in Idaho, she is like an out of control whirlwind. Outspoken, precocious and manipulative, Rachel becomes the catalyst for change in this story about truth, lies and love. The main appeal of Georgia Rule lies in its shapely top drawer cast of Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan, playing three generations of women from the same dysfunctional family. Yet the film is not the runaway success we would like it to be. It's a case of hit and miss, with a script that hits its target for much of the time, but becomes forced when it matters most.
Garry Marshall is no slouch when it comes to getting ace performances from his leading ladies, and Lohan is a knockout. Her Rachel is a brat who takes delight in shocking everyone. 'She's very resourceful,' says Huffman's Lilly of her daughter, 'she'll find you when she needs you.' Fonda's regimented Georgia doesn't even blink when Rachel flings four letter words at her, but insists she sucks a cake of soap when she blasphemes. Her philosophy that there is comfort in a routine makes some sense, but when Rachel drops a bombshell about her stepfather to Dermot Mulroney's vet Simon, the whole family goes into damage control. Meanwhile Rachel makes a play for Harlan (Garrett Hedlund), a sweet local lad whose strict Morman beliefs endorse sex only after marriage, and the scene in the dinghy when looking is not enough, is a riot. Rachel's relationship with both Harlan and Simon works especially well and the central relationships between Rachel, Lilly and Georgia are filled with pathos, despite a few too many slick lines thrown in by writer Mark Andrus.
The story becomes murky when the fine line separating truth from lies starts to blur and Rachel's step-father Arnold (Cary Elwes) fails miserably as a convincing character. But watching the extraordinary Fonda is a treat, and the story strands come together beautifully with emotional panache. There is nothing false about the emotions at the film's end when a few tears and a lump in the throat are in order.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Written with an ear for both comedy and painful intra-family relationships, Georgia Rule exceeds expectations with a smart yet sensitive screenplay and performances that work the drama as a way to wring humour from the characters. Garry Marshall's guiding hand ensures plenty of emotional spikes, lots of ambiguous developments, and a well judged execution of a complex, edgy resolution. Satisfying for its richness, the film plays its double edged comedy drama sword with plenty of room for audiences to take stock of their responses. And, yes, a little weep may be in order at the end. But it's not a weepy, rather a jokey film, although the jokes are delivered with emotional knuckle dusters.
The film retains its coaxial tone throughout, as the well chosen cast get their characters in and out of painful situations. Jane Fonda does matriarch with sublime subtlety, and avoids caricature or dragging out the Monster in Law character. Felicity Huffman's Lily is a mess but we get to understand her and her journey towards a relationship with her daughter drags us into some troubled territory. Lindsay Lohan plays Rachel rather as we would expect her to behave if media reports are to be believed about her uncontrolled off set behaviour. And it works a treat.
Dermot Mulroney gets to play a dour but important role as the local vet-cum-GP who is something of a catalyst in the story. Garrett Hedlund (think early Heath Ledger with the hair) is fine as the young Mormon who is twisted round Rachel's little finger, and Cary Elwes gets the thankless role of Rachel's stepfather, Adrian, who has an on and off relationship with the audience.
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GEORGIA RULE (M)
CAST: Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, Lindsay Lohan, Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes, Garrett Hedlund
PRODUCER: David Robinson, James Robinson
DIRECTOR: Garry Marshall
SCRIPT: Mark Andrus
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
EDITOR: Bruce Green, Tara Timpone
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Albert Brenner
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 10, 2007