“Georgia Rule,” review by Susan Granger

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If this dysfunctional three-generational drama/comedy is Hollywood’s Mother’s Day gift, the motion picture business is in worse shape than I thought.

Rachel Wilcox (Lindsay Lohan) is a sassy, seductive, rebellious teen who is exiled to spend the summer with her no-nonsense grandmother Georgia (Jane Fonda) in Hull, Idaho, when Lilly (Felicity Huffman), her alcoholic mother, can no longer cope with her.

Rhyming with dull, Hull is a rural Mormon town where everyone says “Good Morning,” children are well mannered and teens don’t drink, smoke, blaspheme, take drugs or have sex until they’re married. Furthermore, Georgia’s household runs by strict rules. While she wasn’t a good mother to Lilly, Georgia gets a second chance with Rachel, who reveals a secret that can make or break the family.

Lindsay Lohan made headlines when she failed to show up for work and was publicly reprimanded, but she’s pitch-perfect. The problem lies in Mark Andrus’ character-driven script, an unsettling mixture of insight and uncertainty, and while the cynical dialogue can be wryly amusing, it’s rarely realistic. Garry Marshall’s direction is unevenly paced and surprisingly derivative. The scene where people are fighting on Georgia’s front lawn and she tries to break it up by wetting them down with a garden hose is straight out of Jodie Foster’s “Home for the Holidays.”

Felicity Huffman accesses fragile Lilly’s confusion, and Jane Fonda shows true grit after her “Monster-in-Law” debacle. Cary Elwes, Dermot Mulroney and Garrett Hedlund lend oddball male support but, dramatically, the movie is only a step up from a flop. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Georgia Rule” is a convoluted, contrived, cliché-ridden 5, evoking Robert Frost’s “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.