- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bad girls are so misunderstood. So Lindsay Lohan — er, make that Rachel, the character she plays in director Garry Marshall’s “Georgia Rule” — would have us believe.

Rachel might be a sex-starved pill-popper taking the slow route to college, but behold: She can identify Bach’s music and Ezra Pound’s poetry and successfully play along at home with “Jeopardy.” Plus, if she’s not lying about it, she was molested as a youngster — which neatly explains everything. Right?

Unh uh.

Rachel is contradictory, credulity-defying and — despite the best efforts of Miss Lohan and the Mark Andrus script she’s working off — comes off as a giant you-know-what-in-the-you-know-where even in her “redeeming moments.” She’s the first of many things that break this “Rule.”

At the film’s outset, Rachel has committed enough misdeeds for her mother, Lilly (“Desperate Housewives’ ” Felicity Huffman), to banish her to small-town Idaho, where grandma Georgia (Jane Fonda) maintains a strict Christian home.

It seems the well-heeled Lilly isn’t exactly the best role model, given her fondness for drink. Clearly, her “Thou shalt not use the Lord’s name in vain” mom is better equipped to tame Rachel’s inner beasts. Georgia will attempt to do so using the old wash-your-mouth-out-with-soap trick and a series of edicts she calls “Georgia rules.”

Big surprise: The decrees don’t prevent Rachel from acting out. Among other offenses, she nearly deflowers a handsome Mormon boy and attempts to shag Simon, her mom’s former love interest (Dermot Mulroney).

The frayed family ties won’t truly be tested, however, until Rachel opens up about the purported abuses she once suffered. Are they just a ploy for sympathy or the true source of her unruly behavior? In fact, it’s hard for even the audience to discern. (The end strives to clarify the matter, but the ambiguity doesn’t magically melt away as the filmmakers had hoped.)

“Georgia Rule” opens on Mother’s Day weekend, and it is about intergenerational relationships between women. But unless you’d enjoy following the bouquets and brunch with some soap-opera-style antics — from foul language and raunchy references all the way to pedophilia and alcoholism — this isn’t exactly a feel-good family film.

Men who get dragged to “Georgia Rule” get some compensation, though — they’ll get to see Miss Lohan in her skivvies. Then again, they could probably see that on the Internet and bypass the nearly two hours of melodrama.

*

TITLE: “Georgia Rule”

RATING: R (for sexual content and some language)

CREDITS: Directed by Garry Marshall. Screenplay by Mark Andrus

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

WEB SITE: www.georgiarulemovie.netoperatic film from itself.

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