|Georgia Rule. Directed by Garry Marshall (Whoa! What happened to him?). Starring Jane Fonda (Whoa! What happened to her?), Felicity Huffman, Lindsey Lohan (Whoa! What happened to her?), Cary Elwes (Whoa! What happened to him?), Dermott Mulroney (or Dylan McDermott, not sure which one, but hey… does it really matter?).
Finally: A movie to tackle the funny side of Mormons and child molestation. Take it easy: the Mormons don’t molest the children… and that’s about the only vulgarity not perpetrated by this unspeakably crass, pointless flick that seems to conflate or confabulate or conflue or construe the parallel but not coaxial currents of chickitude and social conscience (“I am Woman. Hear me roar/About the second-hand smoke next door…”). We twit the Mormons for their decency: Do missionary work; Don’t do missionary position… at least not without per-mission and then re-mission although in the film we get from one poor schlub, in another tasteless moment, what I guess we’d have to call e-mission, if you catch my drift (if you don’t, ask your mom). Jane Fonda, God bless her, has at last gone round the bend. Still a head-Turner (“Turner”… get it?) till what? …seventy, she’s now finally made it to matronhood, that undiscovered country from whose born no traveller returneth, certainly not with cheekbones high and lips pouty. No more tight jeans. No more cleavage. And for the Love of Mercy, no more close ups.
In this one, Fonda fetches up—from her repertoire of a) crusty but fragile fee-males and b) see a)—a crusty but fragile grandma (Georgia of the title), spunky and willful yet tender, too, matriarch (from the Greek mater = “crusty”; archê = “fragile”) of a line of persnickety fee-males descending from her through a daughter Lilly (spelt for some reason with two –l’s and played by Felicity Huffman) and on to a third generation, the granddaughter Rachel (Lohan), the unspoken premise here that sensitive, high-strung women can’t get along with each other unless prodded to teary, bleary reconciliation by the phallocratic (literally in the event) intrusion of dumbo (and in this case vicious) males. Ptui! Better purchase that bigggggggg box of gummi bears for this one, buddy, and then plump the whole lot into your mouth at once on account of otherwise you’re gonna laugh in the wrong place or say sommat dumb and wind up wolfing down your Hamburger Helper ™ cold for a week. Fonda, who can do it when she wants to (and has…urf urf! …for a bewilderingly diverse collection of paramours), tries to register “lovable” for this role but as a stretch it was a lot more plausible for her when she still had a butt would stop a clock. Poor Felicity, stuck in her “desperate” mode after a polished entrance, decays into red-eyed “desperation” from which she emerges only in time to burst into tears at dénouement (French for “Aw, Jeeezus. Not a gang hug…”) moment while Lindsey Lohan, who appears to have “blossomed” and then faded (positively emaciated—except for the silicone, of course—despite a new throwaway teen wardrobe each scene of increasingly diminishing coverage), plays… Lindsey Lohan, ill-bred houri acting out every adolescent’s dream of boorish sulkiness on account of something went kerflooey in the family: “It’s not your fault,” they actually tell her.
Goes like this. Grandma Georgia, widowed in—wait for it… wait for it—Idaho (sommeres out West), reigns as Catherine the Grate (urf! urf!) in a small town filled with warmly quirky small towners like which one ain’t? Mom, disaffected over her upbringing at the hands of Georgia (“Georgia rules” mandate old fashioned Main Street malt shoppe poodle skirt mores) must this season trek it from San Francisco to Idaho (noisy to Boise, so to speak) there to dump young Rachel while she, mom, savors the charms of husband Arnold (Cary Elwes, no longer slim, polished urbanite but here an obtuse not to say obese lawyer what else?) who spends his days coaxing purrs from his Ferrari Testarossa (Italian: testa = “testicle”; rossa = “pathetic, shriveled up little bitty lawyer ones”) and his nights coaxing purrs from… well, I don’t want to ruin it for you. Rachel, meantime, has been acting up since she turnt twelve, has slipped out from anunder Mom’s grip, has become, well …disaffected with her mom, much as her mom has become… and on and on. If you think you see a Paris Hilton marooned in rural America, U.S.A., learning the lessons of us simple, decent folk who populate the Heartland, you might be forgiven for that. Anyhow. Into this gyre of misaligned gynitude stumble Simon the veterinarian (Dermott Mulroney—or Dylan McDermott—who also treats people: “Isn’t that illegal?”) still carrying a torch for mom Lil(l)y but to whom the nubile Rachel is drawn (she has a thing for older men, “father” figures, as it turn out) and Harlan, the nice Mormon boy already fianced to some milk-fed Mormoness but to whom the nubile Rachel is drawn (she has a thing for “deflowering” as it turn out). Mix. Stir. Allow fat to rise to surface. Skim off. Serve as your movie.
What’s ugly here is the notion of tee-heeing over child molestation. Rachel throws out casually the offhand announcement that her (step-)dad has been doing her “since she was twelve” but then yanks back the accusation. Then tosses it out again. Then retracts it again. A barrel of yucks? And just how funny is it to seduce a Mormon kid on the way to his mission? Or mock the guy’s fee-male coreligionnaires, uneasily facing pubescence in a world where Britney doesn’t wear her undies nor Janet hers? It’s pretension that’s liable to parody. Not innocence. Well, anyhow. It all comes out in the end. The shabby secret. The familial reticence. The repressed affection. The poor Mormon kid’s little whoozis. As the once-buffeted but now-united fee-males of Georgia’s clan lacrymembrace on the dusty roadside of Route 66 outside of Pocatello agin the tailgate of a rusting pickup, off drives the fat-faced lawyer in the throaty roar of his European sports car, boasting how he’s defoliated the young girl but promising a tussle in court. Up credits. Amazing Grace… that is: it’ll be amazing if you can find any grace here.