Jane Fonda, Lindsay Lohan, Felicity Huffman |R | [2.5 stars]
Like a day in which sunshine alternates with threatening clouds, Georgia Rule can be a hard movie to read or predict. But that's part of Rule's quirky appeal, helping to explain why it grows on you. Focusing on three generations of women struggling to understand each other, it's more of a dark drama than a comedy.
Rachel (Lohan) is a troubled 17-year-old whose fed-up mom (Huffman) sends her to spend the summer with her grandmother Georgia (Fonda) in a small town in Idaho. The teenager is soon parading around in skimpy outfits, brazenly coming on to every male she encounters and breaking all of Georgia's punctilious rules. "She was raised in California," Georgia explains to aghast townsfolk.
Director Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman) undercuts a compelling plot by pushing too hard for laughs where none are needed—sometimes causing unsettling swings in tone. Whatever her troubles are off-screen (see page 23), Lohan proves again that she is a remarkable young actress, one able to shift emotional gears with impressive fluidity. As for reliable veterans Fonda and Huffman, both turn in strong performances. Rule may wander, but it's still a journey worth taking.
LABOR OF LOVE
• A svelte Ricki Lake steps back into the spotlight with a documentary on natural birth
After producing a new documentary and getting fighting trim—she's slipping into size 4 jeans these days, thanks to exercise and a food delivery program—Ricki Lake feels reborn. And birth is very much on the former talk show queen's mind. In The Business of Being Born, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, Lake, 38, and director Abby Epstein celebrate natural childbirth. An advocate for midwives, Lake shares footage of herself giving birth at home to second son Owen, 5, in her bathtub. "The pain was there—no question," says Lake, who had an epidural with first son Milo, 10. "[But] I wasn't stuck in a hospital bed." Furthermore, she says, "I learned to love my body after that. Seeing what my body can do, what it can create and how resilient it is—that was very powerful."
A FONDA LOOK BACK!
Jane Fonda ruled Hollywood long before Georgia Rule
Debuts as a man-starved coed in a dopey college comedy.
Shows off her comedy chops in a still-funny Western spoof.
Becomes an intergalactic sex kitten.
Wins an Oscar as a call girl. Dig the shag do.
Heals Jon Voight in this Vietnam drama—and nabs Oscar No. 2.
THE CHINA SYNDROME
Earns raves in a No Nukes drama.
ON GOLDEN POND
Acting on film with dad Henry for the first time, Fonda plays—natch—his daughter.
Gets in a girl fight with J.Lo in this campy comedy.
THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
PEOPLE'S MOVIE CRITIC DOES JURY DUTY
• It's not like being stuck in a courthouse, but judging entries in a film festival is still no lark. Along with actresses Mercedes Ruehl and Minnie Driver, I was one of six jurors weighing movies made in New York at the recent Tribeca Film Festival. We all sat through 14 films—some good, some awful—in a week, then debated which one deserved the $5,000 top prize. Our pick: The Education of Charlie Banks, an eloquent coming-of-age tale directed by Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst and starring Jason Ritter (far left, son of John) and Eva Amurri (left, daughter of Susan Sarandon). Keep an eye out for it.
28 Weeks Later
Rose Byrne, Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Renner | R | [1.5 stars]
When days turn into weeks, it may not be a promising sign. Case in point: 28 Weeks Later, the mediocre follow-up to the haunting horror film 28 Days Later (2002). Boasting neither the same cast nor director as the earlier film (though Days director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland do serve as executive producers on Weeks), this lackluster sequel is again set in England, where a mysterious virus in Days had transformed the once respectable populace into ravenous, flesh-eating zombies. In Weeks, the U.S. Army crosses the Atlantic to help out but, when the virulent virus returns, a military doctor (Byrne) and an ace sniper (Renner) find themselves trying to lead a young pair of British siblings to safety. Uh, good luck with that.
Peter Krause | R | [2 stars]
After he's let go from his job as an accountant, Terry Allen (Six Feet Under's Krause) has too much time on his hands and begins to obsess about a new neighbor (Khaled Abol Naga) in his apartment complex. Turns out the stranger downstairs is Middle Eastern, and Terry quickly becomes convinced he's a possible terrorist. Playing on the unease we all feel in a post-9/11 era, Civic Duty somewhat melodramatically shows how one man allows his fear to drive him over the edge. Krause, all jittery energy, gives an effective performance, but the film never quite grabs hold.
HAROLD PERRINEAU ON ...
LIFE AFTER LOST
He sailed away from ABC's spooky hit. Now Perrineau, 43, battles, um, zombie-like persons in 28 Weeks Later.
YOU FIGHT ZOMBIES!
We are instructed not to say zombies, though they look like zombies and this movie is in the zombie genre. They are Infected Peoples!
THIS MOVIE IS PRETTY GORY.
In the first [28 movie], you get glimpses of the rage virus, but in this, you full-on get it: people in your face, throwing up in front of your car, dripping blood. If they make a third, they'll have to really bring it.
YOU FLOATED OFF ON A RAFT ON LOST. ANY CHANCE YOU'LL RETURN?
I'll know in two weeks. Just as a fan, I'm curious about where Michael and his son Walt went, if the Others gave them good coordinates to be saved. I'd like to have some resolution. Like, are they really just five miles from Tahiti?
WE HOPE MICHAEL CAN SWIM.
That's funny—because I can't. When I got the show, they were like, "Okay, now you're all in the water." And I go, "Oh, that's interesting...." For the second season they gave me a heads-up and said, "The episode starts with you in the water. So, could you take some lessons?"