Georgia Rule Garry Marshall

Georgia Rule Garry Marshall
Georgia Rule is a light-hearted comedy about sexual abuse, and while it’s not quite as inappropriate as that sounds, it still refuses to take the subject as seriously as it should. The film begins with alcoholic mother Lilly (Felicity Huffman) dumping her hell-raising daughter Rachel (Lindsay Lohan) on her strict mother Georgia (Jane Fonda). To say the threesome is dysfunctional is putting it mildly.

Of course, it comes out that Rachel was molested by her stepfather, Arnold (Cary Elwes), but her reputation as a liar (and a little denial on her mother’s part) has kept her from being believed. What also can’t be believed is director Garry Marshall’s downplaying of the trauma with his usual gallery of grotesques and attempts at homespun wisdom. He’s a little too conventional in his placement of the issue in the midst of a plot problem that must be "solved” — as if resolution in such a situation could be so easily won — and of frontloading the film with some tear jerking and laugh-forcing that soft-pedals the emotions at play.

Despite her personal problems, Lohan does pretty well under the circumstances, but she’s the only remarkable thing about this otherwise pallid production; the other principals do what’s expected and no more, while Elwes’ delivery seems a bit too forced. But mostly, the dynamics of the three women, which naturally favour rule-crazy Georgia, despite her coldness to her love-starved daughter, aren’t handled with anything resembling complexity.

Marshall’s guilty of playing by the rules of standard narrative instead of those of psychology. While it can’t be accused of lurid sensationalism, Georgia Rule is still too Hollywood too much of the time. (Universal)