"Vague and Clichéd"
What You Need To Know:
GEORGIA RULE has some excellent acting, but the filmmakers rely too much on cliché. Also, the words "right and wrong" and "truth and lie" are repeated, but the movie's and the characters' worldviews are mixed. The movie also has some crude sexual references and crude language. Thus, although it ends on a redemptive, hopeful note, the movie does not take advantage of the spiritual possibilities of its story. The movie skirts around the possible religious beliefs of the characters and downplays any possible religious components behind its moral elements.
(PaPa, B, C, Ro, FR, Ab, LL, V, S, AA, M) Mixed, somewhat vague pagan worldview with pagan and moral elements set in a Mormon town with a strict grandmother, who seems to have a very vaguely implied positive relationship with Jesus of some sort (though she is not Mormon herself apparently and does not refer to the Bible other than referring to "the Lord's name" in a scene mentioning Jesus), trying to straighten out a rebellious granddaughter from a broken home who has some psychological issues, plus some Romantic elements, grandmother has a vaguely faith-based system of rules but seems unforgiving and characters believe in the false religion of Mormonism but movie also shows some of them in a negative light, and movie has one or two positive references to God and Jesus Christ; 12 obscenities (including one "f" word), three strong profanities, nine light profanities and one blasphemy, including grandmother berates a man for profaning Jesus Christ's name ("the Lord's name"); scuffle between two characters on a front lawn; some crude sexual references and innuendos, plus older female teenager performs implied sex act on another teenager in the story and flirts with males and a secret has to do with pedophilia and sexual abuse; no nudity but older teenager dresses provocatively; alcohol use, underage drinking and alcoholism; smoking; and, some miscellaneous immorality such as lying and teenage rebellion.
GEORGIA RULE, starring Jane Fonda, Lindsey Lohen, Felicity Huffman, Dermot Mulroney, and Garrett Hedlund, is about a rebellious teenager, Rachel (Lohan), who is sent to a small town in Idaho to live with her grandmother, Georgia (Jane Fonda) the summer before she goes to college. She drinks, cusses, flirts, and causes problems in the little Mormon town of Hull, Idaho.
“Right and wrong” and “truth and lie” are repeated throughout the film. The three main characters are identified with these words. Rachel pretty much ignores right and wrong and goes back and forth between lie and truth like a ping pong ball.
Georgia plays her rules in a “stiff-necked” way and predictably with seemingly no forgiveness and very little love.
Rachel’s mother, Lilly (played by Felicity Huffman with a keen fragility), has no rules – or none that she can hold on to in her life. She reflects the pain of her mother’s loveless commands and thus has no notion of how to reach her daughter.
This should have been a good movie. It ends almost tearfully for the audience with a certain amount of redemption and hope. And, the acting is superb, with each role, even the minor ones, nuanced and believable.
What falls short is the directing and screenwriting. This is surprising considering the director and writer, Garry Marshall (PRINCESS DIARIES) and Mark Andrus (AS GOOD AS IT GETS), the cast, and the well-structured plot.
When a conflict moves to crisis in the movie, however, the filmmakers resort to cliché. Instead of building the scene, there were cheap sexual innuendos and gratuitous foul language. In one of the movie’s most important dramatic climaxes, what should have been a heartfelt scene between a mother trying to help her daughter battle alcoholism disintegrates into a “mock” tribal ceremony where the women sit surrounded by liquor bottles and candles bemoaning the fact that the daughter has cut off her hair.
GEORGIA RULE had potential. The plot of four generations living by empty, relatively godless rules was a good start. The rules were drilled into Georgia. She passed them on to her daughter, Lilly. Lilly refused to pass them on to Rachel, but nothing was given to Rachel in their place.
Although it ends on a redemptive, hopeful note, the movie does not take advantage of the spiritual possibilities of its story. The movie skirts around the possible religious beliefs of the characters and downplays any possible religious components behind its moral elements.