Monday, May 14, 2007

Film Review: "Georgia Rule"

My wife wanted to see a 'chick-flick' for Mother's Day. She chose "Georgia Rule" starring Jane Fonda, Felicity Huffman and Lindsay Lohan.

The film is set in small town, Idaho: the home town of the main character, Grandma Jane weird it is to write that. It is an unabashedly Mormon town...nice, friendly, sweet, rule-abiding Mormon.

The plot: it is a Grandmother, Mother, Granddaughter story. Mother (Lilly; Felicity Huffman) is taking her incorrigible Daughter (Rachel; Lindsay Lohan) to Grandmother's (Giorgia's; Jane Fonda's) house in rural Idaho as a punishment for past behavior and a condition of her going to college (Mama's paying). The deal: spend a summer living with Grandma in rural Idaho and out of San Francisco--Rachel's hometown--which, as we all know, if anyone lives there too long incorrigible people get more incorrigible..or she doesn't get to go to Vassar!

Mother (Felicity; who used to be a drunk in her youth...and still is!) drops Daughter unceremoniously at Grandma's house, and prepares to leave town immediately because she and Grandma never got along (too much Georgia rule). Grandma, a devout Mormon (no blasphemous talk around this lady--a very occasional 'fuck' is okay, but no taking God's name in vain...a literal mouth-washed -with-soap is the punishment!) is lovable but cantankerous Jane Fonda (who is still a-little-too-good-too-look-at-but-not-really for the part...aging should be respected and not overly confronted by all of us...even by Jane Fonda!).

The rest of the story is: Will Grandma (and her rule/rules) melt Granddaughter's inncorrigibility (and for that matter, Daughter's drunkenness)?

Well, first, Granddaughter incorrigibly gives a blow-job to a sweet, virgin Mormon boy (played with a bit-too-much cloying washer-board-brow sincerity by Gary Elwes) and thereby screws up his since-the-sixth-grade-relationship with a nice Mormon girl--because Mormon boys have to tell the truth; and he does.

Next, Lindsay tries to seduce the local, handsome widower veterinarian whom she works for (played nicely by Dermot Mulroney) with whom Grandma has secured Granddaughter a job...and who (very conveniently for the drama) used to date/love Mother (Felicity). Dermot is tempted; Lindsay has a nice body...which is on display throughout the film, by the way.

Granddaughter (whether through anger or connivance...I forgot) spills the beans: step-daddy (adequately played by Garett Hedlink) has had sex with her from age twelve to fourteen (and this is the source of her incorrigibility and her sexual over-appetite for men). But is it? Granddaughter is a big-time liar (part of being incorrigible) she telling the truth or not? Mama (Felicity) won't believe it (she loves her husband); step-daddy denies it...but is suspect because he is a big time defense lawyer and we all know what that means (especially if we live in San Francisco and it is seen from the vantage point of a small town in Idaho).

Well...the plot goes on and on..and the mystery of sex, love and drama (and comedy, let's not forget the comedy: blow jobs with virgin boys; and the reaction of jealous girls...funny, no?) I said, it goes on..and on...and on....

I won't spoil your seeing the film for you by telling you the wrap-up...but ...if you accept it is a Mormon conceived film (perhaps financed by Mormon money? More on that in a minute) you can guess the wrap up: good prevails over bad, family love conquers all, and God reaches across the generations and heals. And the Mormon boy goes on a mission. Literally. It's almost the last line in the film. And it's worth the price of admission to see Jane Fonda (acting wise) summon up all her talent just ignore the kid's line!

The writer, Mark Andrus is a talented award winning writer: he wrote the Academy Award winning 1997 "As Good As It Gets", a most, most funny comedy, romance, drama (Mr. Andrus' charter, I believe) starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt; as well as writing a particular sweet favorite of mine, the 2001 "Life As A House" starring the always brilliant Kevin Kline.

But...on this film, he went wrong; and I can only venture a guess or two as to why.

Perhaps one-too-many 'comedy-drama-romances'; the wells gone dry? Perhaps being around Garry Marshall, the director of the film? Who reverted to his "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" mode instead of "Pretty Woman" which had a little style and subtlety?

Perhaps Mr. Andrus felt a little too much obligation in some strange, unknown way to Idaho Mormonism? (I thought after viewing the film credits: maybe the writer is related to Cecil D. Andrus, the ex-great governor of Idaho and Secretary of the Interior under Jimmy Carter? His Daddy? His Grandaddy? But...then I thought...Cecil Andrus was a Lutheran? Oh, well...I still believe there's a connection somewhere.)

Perhaps bottom line is bottom line: the financing came from Mormons, and Mark Andrus felt overly obligated to please the 'piper' and not his 'muse'? He is very diligent in not overly criticizing or ridiculing that faith; which I respect and appreciate. I've spent many years and much time around Mormons ...and I invariably found them a bright, talented, caring, decent group of people.

But...whatever the reason, the film fails for me. I believe what it believes. I like nice sweet films (SEE: "Life As A House") but I wish this whole project could have been conceived with more style and subtlety.

By the way, Lindsay Lohan is more than fine as an actress; I now want to see her again and again in something more challenging (and it has nothing to do with her figure!!!). And I continue to be amazed...and pleased...and gratified...and respectful...with how fine...super actress Felicity Huffman is.

I disliked the film less than my wife, by the way. Happy Mother's Day.


Post a Comment

<< Home