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Home » Movies

Movie Review: THE LOVELY BONES

Submitted by on December 1, 2009 – 1:30 am 9 Comments

© DreamWorks Studios

Just came out of a screening of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones (opening Dec. 11) and I’m about as confused as the movie is. So, my movie partner, Eric Edwards, and I had the following discussion to help process our thoughts. [Possible mild spoilers.]

PCN: Oh, man, what happened? The trailer was intense but the movie felt like one long yoga/meditation video.

EE: I think my biggest struggle was I kept thinking I should like it more than I do.

PCN: Why do you have to like it?

EE: Because the message they’re trying to put out is very deep and Zen. It was all about the big picture and trusting that the universe will take care of things in its own time. But it took soooo long for payback to happen.

PCN: And when it did, I felt no real closure, which begs the question: Are we impatient, bloodthirsty people? In real life, sometimes comeuppance doesn’t happen at all and you have to find a way to move past the grief.

EE: But this is a movie and I think most moviegoers want to see some kind of reckoning for a bad deed.

PCN: There was reckoning, just not in a way we expected. I feel the same ambivalence toward the movie as I did toward Alice Sebold’s book. It’s internal and meditative and more a dissection of the grieving process than a story. I get that it’s not supposed to be action-packed. So Peter Jackson fills up the in-between with eye candy to amuse us. Look, there’s a waterfall! And Susie frolicking among flowers! A random giant beach ball! And that music sounded like something from a sleep machine. I thought maybe Enya would show up to sing.

EE: That score was pretentious. I did enjoy the book, though. I think this was just bad handling of source material.

PCN: Do you think this has a chance at any awards? The cinematography is gorgeous—

EE: It’s beautiful.

PCN:—but I don’t think the movie deserves anything else. Even Stanley Tucci’s performance is off. He’s really creepy but I was distracted by the blond rug, blue contacts, prosthetic teeth and slightly slurred speech. It’s a little too much. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a perfectly normal-looking guy turn out to be the creepiest one of all?

EE: I don’t think Jackson allowed Tucci to let the full creepiness out.

PCN: What?! He’s super creepy! During the scene where Harvey lures Susie down into the hatch, you were cringing like a baby, you were so scared.

EE: I wasn’t cringing, I was merely showing disapproval. Tucci kept shaking and acting nervous. Jackson should’ve just let Tucci stare at Susie and let the suspense build before making his move. Would’ve been a lot more explosive.

PCN: Oh, it was plenty explosive enough for me. I was sick inside, knowing what would happen to her. I was grateful most of it happened off camera.

EE: But you were projecting your feelings due to prior knowledge. Would it be as creepy for viewers who haven’t read the book?

© DreamWorks Studios

PCN: A grown man preparing to murder a 14-year-old girl? Yeah, I’d say that’s creepy for anyone. What’d you think of Saoirse Ronan’s performance?

EE: The biggest problem for me was her narration, which made the movie so melodramatic, especially when accompanied by Brian Eno’s overwrought score.

PCN: I had no problem with her. I actually liked her as Susie much more than I liked her as that little brat in Atonement. Here, she’s vibrant and shows more range. She also handled the American accent quite well.

EE: I’m not talking about her acting, strictly the narration. Otherwise, she was fine. I liked Rose McIver, who plays Susie’s sister. She made an impression on me.

PCN: Yeah, she had spunk. She’s a New Zealander who also nailed the American accent.

© DreamWorks Studios

EE: What’d you think of Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz?

PCN: They’re okay but their best work is elsewhere. Susan Sarandon looks like she had fun as the boozy, chain-smoking grandma, but the role isn’t significant enough to register come awards time.

Nerd verdicts—PCN: Weak Bones. EE: Bones is lifeless.

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9 Comments »

  • I think it will be too sad for me to want to struggle through. But I’m so glad to read your thoughts on this, as I haven’t read the book and I had it in my head that the movie would be quite different from this. Hubby was intrigued by the teaser he saw, but I don’t think it will be his cup of tea at all.

  • Jen Forbus says:

    I liked this book, primarily because I’m always intrigued by people’s images of the afterlife. But I don’t think it was content that would make for a good movie. I’ll probably skip it. There’s lots more out there that I’m interested in checking out.

  • EIREGO says:

    Awwwwwwwww, man! I was hoping for this one. The book really grabbed me. It reminded me of a book called The Further Education of Oversoul Seven which I found in an old high school locker. It was the perfect thing to get me through puberty.

    The Lovely Bones reminded me of that book, but it looked like that would have been easier to film.

    Dang, first a lame King Kong remake and now mishandling of what I thought was a pretty darn good novel. What is up with Peter Jackson? I mean, the man brought Lord of The Rings to the screen! Geez!

  • BIZMAN5 says:

    Heard it was a bit of a mess, but haven’t been able to catch a screening of it yet.

    Guess I’ll await the dvd.

  • SCRIPTPIMP says:

    Thanks for the review, PCN (& EE). I will probably still see it, but I am deeply disappointed to hear that it isn’t a better film.

  • le0pard13 says:

    Glad to see a return of Double-E in a movie review, PCN. Both of you do these so well. I haven’t read the book, and recall the trailer from my Julie and Julia date with my wife over the summer (where is told me in, no uncertain terms, I was NOT going to take her to see that).

    Given your verdicts, I’ll wait for the Netflix route to take it in. Like Jen said, it is intriguing to see what people imagine as an afterlife. But, I’d rather see What Dreams May Come again on DVD (based on a very good novel by the great Richard Matheson) than this in a theater. Thanks for this.

  • ARB says:

    Sounds like yet another verdict of lousy for The Lovely Bones. Really sad. I was looking forward to it.

  • I wanted to love this film but the inconsistencies wouldn’t allow it… one minute we’re following susie’s journey into the afterlife, the next watching susan sarandon ham it up to the point of cringe. It was like 4 different movies cobbled into one. Sairose was fantastic, as was Tucci though I agree his rug & faker-than-fake china blue contacts were highly distracting.

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