Georgia Rule
Transamerica, Barbarella and Firecrotch … coming next fall on Fox!

Theatrical Release Date: 05/11/2007
Director: Garry Marshall
Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman, Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes

Audiences love stories about families that struggle through their issues and reconnect in the end. It makes the world seem less harsh, like there’s a point to our lives.

While it didn’t make much of a splash at the box office its opening weekend, “Georgia Rule” drew its share of people looking for a feel good story … only I think I’m going crazy because films this season seem to be manipulating their trailers more than usual to entice target demographics, then they pull the rug out from under people, and still, audiences leave feeling sated.

First there was “The Invisible“, then “Waitress” and now “Georgia Rule”.

The trailer for this film depicts a rebellious teen, an estranged mother and a cantankerous grandmother. Awww … isn’t that sweet?

Well, what the trailers don’t tell you is that the teen is acting out because her stepfather (who’s still married to mommy) has been sexually abusing her since she was 12.

Yup, it’s a child abuse film. Wheee … is it still sweet?

Now I see why Lindsay Lohan was cast into this role. No, I’m not making allegations about her past, just going from what I’ve read. She had an alcoholic father with a checkered criminal past.

Between the spotlight on her as a teen celebrutant to her issues partying too much (during the production of this film) to her recent rehab stint, Lohan has dealt with enough bad things in her life to know this character … at least a little bit.

Her performance isn’t always great but there are moments where you see her become this character in a very believable and sincere way.

Felicity Huffman’s character was a little two-dimensional for me and it almost seems like her character was the last one written in because the story tried to make the grandmother-granddaughter relationship the central focus.

There were some excellent exchanges between Fonda and Lohan, which is hard for me to write down, but it’s true. Sure there were times when I thought Lohan was channeling her role in “Herbie Fully Loaded”, but there were also times where you got to see both the pain and understanding these two characters share.

The men in the film are almost inconsequential. McDermott plays his normal savior archetype, brooding and deadpanning his way through the film; Elwes plays the flipside of his role in “The Crush”; Garrett Hedlund plays the morally just Mormon hard body conveniently existing to be the kind of guy a troubled girl like Lohan should be dating.

If this were a play, there would only be the three women and everything would take place in the house, as they bicker back and forth, launching verbal assaults at each other until they reach mutual understanding and acceptance.

But this is a motion picture, so the scope had to increase and I just still can’t get past how much the actual film diverges from the audience expectations.

Now, I’m all for films with dark material that tackle hard issues. Though it baffles me why Hollywood thinks it can sneak these topics into fluff films. Either go big or go home, don’t wishy wash the issue by decorating the surface.

And still, audiences put down their money.

I’ve never had much faith in the general public. Mob mentality is a strong social motivator … we’re sheep. We buy what the commercials tell us to, we wear what the celebrities say is hip and we only care about world issues if it’s trendy to do so.

Is it one hell of a stretch to see this trend in movies as a reflection of a confused and disingenuous society? Sure … but am I wrong?

Since this site is supposed to be about movie reviews, I’ll get off my high horse, shoot it and have a barbeque. I’m giving “Georgia Rule” a 3 out of 5. The film isn’t what it appears to be but it treats the abuse issues with enough respect and sincerity to garner my passing grade.

I really wanted to rip this film apart, throw out a scathing critique of Lohan and make jokes about Fonda and the Vietnam War … but every once in a while my preconceptions are wrong about a film … though if the trailer hadn’t lied to me, maybe I’d have adjusted those notions … maybe.