Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen
Mean old movie critics! Most of them stomped all over “Georgia Rule,” the movie we’ve all been waiting for, where Jane Fonda finally turns into Henry Fonda. And even though it looks like a Chick-fil-a comedy in the trailers and turns out to be something totally different, I enjoyed it.
The New Jane, bounding back from her comeback disaster “Monster-in-Law” a couple years ago, pops up this time with that leathery Fonda skin, that no-nonsense stare, and of course, Morality up the Kazakas. She’s just great, and I hope she makes another thousand movies before re-re-retiring.
This one, “Georgia Rule,” has some unfortunate themes and a couple of cliché potholes along the line, but actually does pay off if you’re willing to wait for it to end the way you knew it was going to end in the first place.
Besides Jane, it’s always a delight to see Felicity Huffman in anything (if you missed her in “Transamerica,” grab the DVD pronto), and she gets to play Fonda’s alcoholic daughter who comes back to the old family homestead to sic her own lousy rotten daughter (Lindsay Lohan) on her granny.
So you’ve got three generations of gals, all with problems. Goody. I was expecting something like a Beth Henley approach; quirky, light, good-hearted. And with old pro Garry Marshall directing, it should have been a wry, intergenerationally wink-wink comedy. But even though it was fun to watch, the script must have fallen off the turnip truck on the way to the set.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, fear not: Hollywood Rule #1 is never broken (Good Folk Living in a Small Town Will Always Reform City Slickers), but someone in the Scriptwriting Think Tank came up with the bizarre idea that Acute Alcoholism, Child Sexual Abuse and the constant mockery of a particular religion are themes currently fit for humor.
Hey, I’m liberal, but ya gotta draw the line somewhere.
So while the three gals fight it out and rumble through all the machinations of dysfunctionality, three guys circle the wagons and await the hugs-n-tears scene. They are Dermot Mulroney, Cary Elwes and Garrett Hedlund as, respectively, a small-town veterinarian who lost his family, a big-town child molester who lost his mind, and a young Mormon who loses his virginity (in a Clinton kinda way).
Lohan, prancing about like Paris Hilton on speed, attempts a trifecta, but only manages to hook the latter. In a rowboat, no less.
Desperate to say something nice about this film, some kind-hearted critics point out that Ms. Lohan does some first-rate acting in the film. I’m not so sure about that one, but we do know from the get-go that she’s got a pure and sensitive heart because she reads poetry. And her mommy’s basically a good person, too, and only became a raging alky capable of abandoning her daughter in a wilderness because she was raised too strictly. Happens every damn time.
Fonda, of course, is cinematic perfection. The raw Nebraska-ness just kind of oozes out of her. She’s so dern good, little kids cut her lawn for free and we, the audience, burst into cheers and raucous laughter every time she attacks a man or some other worthless object with a baseball bat.
I’d suggest: see it. Not with your kids. Lohan’s not actually a peachy role model for youngsters, either on- or (reputedly) off-screen.
There’s a strange kind of fun to this movie, playing in 2,400 theaters nation-wide and even at the Mall in Staunton. Like, try to imagine a Tennessee Williams Comedy. Set in Idaho.
Meanwhile, Back at the Dixie:
Hungry for a smidge of culture? Head for the Dixie tonight at 7 p.m. and take in a LIVE presentation of a one-act adaptation of Moliere’s “Tartuffe.” It’s the Governor’s School of the Arts on stage, performing a play that brought on a hail of censorship. Of course, that was 300 years ago. Things are way different nowadays. Just ask Lindsay Lohan.
Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The New Dominion. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.