Just in time for Mother’s Day, Kyle Smith reviews this year’s Jane Fonda comeback vehicle, Georgia Rule in the New York Post. Smith notes, “You may expect a three-generational chick flick, but what you get is a child-rape comedy:”
City mouse goes country, and we initially seem to be in the land of pokey formula comedy that defines director Garry Marshall (“Pretty Woman,” “Runaway Bride”). Marshall tries to pander to the heartland with musty gags like, “You didn’t say, ‘Simon says,’ Simon,” and the grandmother’s insistence on sticking a bar of soap in everyone’s mouth when they blaspheme.
Urban audiences will be thoroughly bored by the time the movie gets to work alienating the rural crowd: Out of nowhere, Rachel reveals that for years she was systematically raped by her stepfather (a supersized Cary Elwes, whose agent must have told him he was auditioning to play Shrek). The movie dances around the word rape – instead it employs the curious euphemism, “My stepfather started having sex with me when I was 12,” while making it clear the sex was voluntary only on the part of the man.
Rachel’s mother comes back to Idaho so that her distress can be played for laughs – she picks through kitchen knives saying, “Do you have anything this size that’s serrated?” Also, Rachel is such a prankster that she might be lying about the rape thing. Because that would also be hilarious.
When the movie tries to be wicked, it is merely smutty. Rachel tries to corrupt the local teen Mormon cowboy, telling him, “You don’t have to brush your feet after riding me,” then flirting him up by literally spreading her legs and inviting him to take a look. When he admits to being a virgin, she shocks him with a surprise Lewinsky. Every mom in the theater will be casting a panicky eye at the exits, wondering if her own daughter is such a slut.
The Lohan character is too obnoxious to care about, but even as her alarming behavior indicates severe personality damage, Marshall continues to play for laughs. “Harlan, I gave you a b – – w j – b. It wasn’t even a date!” she exclaims, in one of many scenes that mistake the degrading for the empowering.
Equally humiliating antics are in store for Huffman, whose character turns out to be a boozer who both yells “Wooo!” and falls down in the same scene. Later she will (somehow) be stripped topless on her mother’s front lawn in full view of the neighbors while scrambling for a drink.
I didn’t laugh once at the dismal jokes – Rachel is “easy to find. Just listen for a scream,” says her mother in the opening minutes, a remarkably tasteless line for a movie that will turn on a question of rape. I expected merely to be bored, not repulsed. Somebody stick a bar of soap in Garry Marshall’s mouth.
With any luck, the 69-year old Fonda’s recent what-was-she-thinking flashback to her Klute days nearly 40 years ago with Stephen Colbert (who seemed repulsed enough by Fonda’s antics that he momentarily broke character in his performance art knockoff of Bill O’Reilly) should thoroughly depress the film’s box office.
Meanwhile, Libertas reviews the other film opening this weekend, 28 Weeks Later, and wonders if critics are actually watching the movie that’s on the screen. Or are they seeing it through BDS-tinted glasses?