Georgia Rule Film Review
by Kam Williams
Out of Control California Girl Goes to Grandma's House for Rehab in Dysfunctional Family Dramedy
Other than graduating from high school a semester early, Rachel (Lindsay Lohan) has generally been headed down a self-destructive path paved with booze, drugs and indiscriminate sex. Needless to say, the out-of-control, 17 year-old's behavior has been driving her mother, Lilly (Felicity Huffman), crazy, and the last straw arrives when the party girl could care less after totaling a car.
The exasperated mom decides that what might be best for her wayward daughter, who's due to matriculate at Vassar in September, is a break from her for the summer. So, Lilly gets the bright idea of dumping Rachel at her grandmother Georgia's (Jane Fonda) house in Hull, Idaho, a quiet Mormon town where she'd be less likely to get into trouble than at home in San Francisco. Plus, because Georgia is a disciplinarian who doesn't put up with any nonsense, the hope is that her spoiled granddaughter might undergo an attitude readjustment while in her care.
A funny thing happens on the way to Hull, and Lilly abandons Rachel on the side of the highway after the two have a heated argument. Rachel proceeds to fall asleep under a "Welcome to Idaho" billboard, only to be awakened by the hand of a hillbilly named Harlan (Garrett Hedlund) on her breast.
The handsome young hunk explains that he wasn't copping a feel, but only trying to determine whether she was dead or alive. She nevertheless hops into the stranger's pickup truck, since he's headed to Hull, and he drops her off at granny's though it's obvious this won't be the last they'll get to see of each other.
God-fearing Georgia starts reading Rachel the riot act right off the bat, laying down all of her house rules, ranging from "You live here, you work," to "You don't take the Lord's name in vain," to "No drinking in the house," to "No fighting," to "We eat at six, no exceptions." The two butt heads, much to the consternation of the frustrated family matriarch.
To her credit, the teen does take a job as a receptionist for Simon (Dermot Mulroney), a still-grieving veterinarian who lost his wife and son in a car accident a few years ago. Gradually, she seems to adapt to Hull's pace, except when it comes to her slutty sex habits. For some reason, Rachel remains hell bent on sleeping not only with Simon and Harlan, but with the boyfriends of any of the local girls calling her a tramp or even giving her the hairy eyeball.
As Rachel matures, the nagging question which remains is whether there's a plausible explanation for all this acting out or if she's simply a bad seed. The only hint coming from Rachel is a playful suggestion that she's been sleeping with her stepfather, Arnold (Cary Elwes), since she was 12.
If true, this shocking revelation might provide just the right incentive for some overdue intergenerational harmony among Rachel, Georgia and Lilly, not to mention for sweet revenge before the curtain comes down on this genre-bending female empowerment flick masquerading as a titillating teensplurt.
Very good (3 stars)
Rated R for profanity, mature themes, drug references and teen sexuality.
Running time: 113 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures
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