My original thought process going in to “Georgia Rule” was to describe it as nothing more than a two hour sitcom worthy of a local family channel. Filled with every cliché in the book from an eccentric small town, an uppity wealthy socialite, and the local town folks who fill her with a sense of worth, this monstrosity is worthy of every bit of criticism that can be thrown at it. But midway it takes such a confusing stern dramatic direction that it’s just incredibly jarring to sit through. How we go from a big fish in small pond comedy to a Lifetime drama of the week is absolutely ridiculous, but lo and behold, director Gary Marshall tries to pass off the sudden change in this tone, and it’s far from anything resembling seamless or subtle.
As for Jane Fonda, she’s yet to really find her purpose in modern film and for probably a good reason. There’s yet to be a director that hasn’t turned her into a limp archetype of senior citizenship, and there isn’t a single actor who has the ability to play off of her. From Jennifer Lopez right down to Lindsay Lohan, Fonda dwarfs them, and the sexual fascination with the utterly shrill sub-par Lohan by the director turns Fonda into an under-developed supporting character. When I was really uncertain what the director intended for this movie, it again toggles into a relationship comedy concerning mormons, then a mother-daughter dramedy involving three generations of women, and so on, and on.
“Georgia Rule” is terrible, and in many ways exploits star Lindsay Lohan. From depicting her as a party loving sexually promiscuous juvenile painfully mirroring her own life, and taking every such opportunity to feature her in short shorts, and cleavage dropping shirts, there isn’t a single shot here that doesn’t make some sort of reference to her sexuality, or potential to sex with Lohan, and it doesn’t so much become comedic as it does uncomfortable, even for someone who finds her generally attractive. And on many occasions Marshall attempts to make sexual molestation absolutely hysterical.
Marshall’s film is horribly unfocused switching from sub-plot to sub-plot, toggling between characters and leaves so many plotlines unresolved. Marshall, true to form, takes every chance to be predictable to the point where he doesn’t even bother to challenge the audience. Why is Georgia supposed to be an unsympathetic character again? Will Rachel (Lohan) fall for the hunky mormon? Will Lily (Huffman) reconnect and fall for the local town doctor she was once in love with? Will Georgia ever learn to say “I Love You” to her family? And, most importantly: Why is Garry Marshall still directing movies? It’s a comedy about sexual abuse, or at least it tries to be, and fails at with flying colors. Marshall continues his losing streak with me, with a film that’s an utterly horrid exploitation of Lohan, misuse of Fonda, and a clunky dramedy through and through.