Excess baggage

Georgia Rule

Jane Fonda scans the horizon searching for her career.

Jane Fonda scans the horizon searching for her career.

Rated 2.0

Garry Marshall, the man cool enough to create Happy Days but evil enough to inflict Beaches upon us, directs a real mish-mash with the sloppy Georgia Rule. Some respectable performances and funny moments are done in by a plot that, while somewhat daring at times, ultimately mishandles some sensitive subjects.

The film starts with young rebel Rachel (Lindsay Lohan) jumping out of her mother Lilly’s (Felicity Huffman) car somewhere near Idaho as a result of some unseen argument. Crazy Rachel immediately commences bad behavior when she meets up with Harlan (Garrett Hedlund), a religion-obsessed virgin, and sullen Simon (Dermot Mulroney), a widower who treats both animals and humans at his veterinary hospital. These are just two of the men who will get mixed up in Rachel’s tumultuous life.

Mother and daughter were taking their trip to drop Rachel off with cantankerous grandma Georgia (Jane Fonda in her second film back from semi-retirement). Rachel has been screwing up at home, allegedly taking drugs, so mommy figures a good dose of grandma will straighten her out. Georgia is a hot granny who hangs out with a couple of young kids and lays the law of her house down by consistently squawking the film’s title. Her big thing is to make her granddaughter wash her mouth out with soap for taking the lord’s name in vain, a joke that worked well in A Christmas Story, but not so much this time.

Marshall and company throw a whole bunch of stuff into the pot, with only some of it cooking to edible levels. Rachel has a lot of baggage for a young woman, including possible molestation by her stepfather (master thespian Cary Elwes, still getting jobs despite being one of the planet’s worst actors). This revelation brings Lilly back to Georgia’s house, where she starts drinking again and gives herself a terrible haircut. Huffman plays a painfully cliché drunk. All that’s missing is her drinking from a bottle in a paper bag and singing repeated choruses of “Sweet Adeline.”

Lohan is a decent actress, and she is required to endure some rather wretched scenes, including a few awkward ones with Mulroney. The film employs an obvious, textbook psychology in trying to explain why Rachel is so rebellious and promiscuous. It then tries to lighten the mood with kind of sophomoric, sitcom humor more at home in Marshall’s Mork & Mindy.

Even though the film is a failure, it’s still cool to see Fonda back at work. She’s yet to find a comeback project worthy of her—this one is only mildly better than Monster-In-Law—but she hasn’t lost any of her spark. The film actually resembles On Golden Pond in some ways, the film she made with her dad and Katharine Hepburn 26 years ago. Cool trivia note: Fonda is only four years younger than Hepburn was when she starred in Pond. Other cool trivia note: Fonda is much hotter than Hepburn was in her 70s. Proof that aerobics work!

It’s respectable that the film tries to portray sensitive subjects. It’s just unfortunate how shallow it tends to become during those portrayals. It’s a dark comedy with brutal language and subject matter, masquerading as a family comedy. Those going to the movie with expectations of a feel good, laugh riot will be disappointed.

So throw Georgia Rule onto the pile of disheartening films to start off the summer. It’s much better than, say, Kickin’ It Old Skool, but it still doesn’t pass for anything resembling good movie. I can’t catch a good movie to save my life right now. I’m feeling like a lonely surfer trying to catch a wave whilst paddling in some 10-foot deep pond in the middle of Oklahoma. Please, let the good movies come soon.