Oh Lindsay Lohan, where has your talent gone?
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. Finally, I thought to myself, here it is. She's not a stick insect, she's not blonde, and she has talent. I was preparing myself to become a fan.
Then came the rehab years, the photos of her forgetting to wear her underpants in public, the daily drunken digests on all the gossip sites. We've all read about her family drama, so really, who can blame her for taking things too far? And hell, I’m sure there is more than one picture of me out there doing something that I probably wouldn't want to display at my high school reunion. But still, it seemed La Lohan was morphing further and further from the girl I wanted to root for.
Georgia Rule was my first chance to see her on screen since she became daily tabloid fodder. And now it is time to say it - the nail is in the coffin.
Directed by Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Other Sister), Georgia Rule is a dramedy about three generations of women, all outlandish in their own ways. There is tough, strict grandmother Georgia (Jane Fonda), who still lives by a set of rigid rules (which she imposes upon everyone with a perky, "Georgia Rule.") in a small town in Idaho; mother Lilly (Felicity Huffman), who is trying to put her alcoholism in the past and live the good life with her second husband, rich lawyer Arnold (Cary Elwes) in San Francisco; and then spoiled, uncontrollable wild-child Rachel (Lohan) for whom nothing (drugs, sex, pathological lying) is beyond the pale.
When college-aged Rachel finally becomes too much for her mother to handle, Lilly ships her off to Georgia's house for the summer. And at first, Rachel tries her damndest to stir up controversy in the tiny, Mormon town. But as the days go on and she actually starts to respond to living under Georgia Rule, some family secrets start to out themselves. Will the women be able to weather the storm?
True to Garry Marshall form, Georgia Rule is a little saccharine while attempting to deal with more serious issues (in this case, sexual abuse). And true to writer Mark Andrus' (Life as a House, As Good as it Gets) form, it runs a little long, has several pretty weighty subplots, and basically feels like it could have used one more tightening rewrite to streamline it.
Lindsay Lohan, on the other hand, does. Considering her well-publicized history, she would seem like a total no-brainer for casting the bratty, brassy, hard-partying, hyper-sexualized Rachel. Yet, she is totally, painfully hammy in the part. Okay, I'm going a little too far. When Rachel starts to tone down a little bit, Lohan is actually okay. But whenever the character is acting out, she is beyond over the top. It was painful and confounding, especially when you see what a good job both Fonda (Monster-in-Law, On Golden Pond) and Huffman (Transamerica, Desperate Housewives) are doing.
What might be even more off-putting was her total lack of understanding of her character's issues. Whenever discussing any of the potential sexual abuse, Lohan delivers her lines the weight of deciding what dress to wear to dinner. It made most of those relevant scenes awkward and uncomfortable to watch, to say the least.
All those problems included, though, Georgia Rule was actually better than I expected. As overtly Hallmark-schmoopy as Marshall's and Andrews' work can sometimes be, I still tend to like it, as girly as it may be for me to admit that. The same goes for Georgia Rule. For all of Lohan's issues, she has a lot of talented actors around her turning in good performances. And for all its flaws, the story is still interesting and watchable.