Georgia Rule stars Jane Fonda in the story of what her life would be like if Lindsay Lohan were her granddaughter. Here’s a hint: It would suck. Yes they’re not playing themselves, they’re playing characters, but you get the feeling that somewhere along the way director Garry Marshall stopped following the script and just started filming the drama on the set. And why not? Lindsay Lohan can’t act to save her life. The promising and beautiful young actress we all saw few years ago in Mean Girls is gone, replaced by a sun-glasses wearing skank who says her lines like she’s fighting a wicked hangover to read them off of a cue card. Jane Fonda brings her “A” game, but it’s all she can do to endure Lohan.
It’s actually kind of a shame Georgia Rule got stuck with Lindsay. The script is interesting and it tackles some pretty heavy issues in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever quite seen before. Lohan is Rachel, a troubled girl from California who is deposited in Idaho by her mother (Felicty Huffman), in the hope that her strict grandmother can straighten her out. Rachel is completely unlikable when we meet her. A spoiled, manipulative bitch who uses sexuality to take what she wants from people and leave them a broken shell behind her. Her grandmother Georgia (Fonda) can do little more than try to put up with her. Whenever her daughter and granddaughter are around, it’s like Georgia is trapped in some insane madhouse. Watching the stately and composed Fonda’s reactions to the insanity that seems to follow her kids around town is a riot.
The bad girl left to be straightened out by grandma story has been done a million times before, and were all that there was to the film it’d be kind of like a boring rip-off of Black Snake Moan. But Georgia Rule tries to tread new ground by digging more into how people around the bad girl deal with her insanity. Early in the film Rachel drops the bomb that she was molested by her step-father and most of the movie is spent with everyone around with her trying to cope with the residual fallout. What I liked about it is how realistically they handle it. Her mother is ripped apart and wanders around the movie trying to figure out who to believe. Fonda’s Georgia just sort of follows behind both Huffman and Lohan, incredulous at what a disaster they are and trying to pick up the pieces. There’s no easy answers and the movie flops back and forth between reactions, with everyone up and down as they try sort fact from fiction and Rachel continues to self-destruct.
I really think there’s an interesting script here and the cast, except for Lindsay Lohan, is solid. But Lindsay is at the center of it all and she makes as much a mess of her performance as Rachel does of the lives of everyone around her. She stumbles through the movie like a boozed out whore. I get that she’s supposed to be a wild, troubled party girl but that doesn’t mean she has to wear sunglasses twenty-four hours a day and dress like she’s trying to give little kids boners. Her wardrobe seems to consist of whatever vomit-covered wrinkled party dresses she had on when she showed up to the set. My theory on the sunglasses thing is that Lindsay showed up on set with a hangover, and they had to keep them on her to cover the dark circles around her eyes. Either that or she thought her character was some sort of celebrity hiding out in a small town, which she isn’t.
Georgia Rule is smart and energetic, but it’s also kind of inconsistent. When Rachel is supposed to be sympathetic you’ll find yourself hating her, because she never gets past being a total bitch. When things are supposed to be serious and sappy the behavior of Huffman and Lohan’s characters is so completely over the top that it’s almost funny, though watching Fonda in the background while they stumble around the house is so completely priceless that it alone might make the movie worth seeing. The film digs deep into some tough issues and handles them in a unique and genuine way, maybe they just needed to recast it. Lohan should have been kicked off the set the first time she tried to wear aviator sunglasses during a tear-jerking moment.