This movie sucked - for real. I know respectable movie critics should use smarter words than that, but it’s the only word I can think of. It sucked me in with fabulous previews and Imogen Heap songs. It sucked me in with, “A Film by Peter Jackson”. And then, inevitably, it blew. This was the film equivalent of that old sideshow act, Man Eating Chicken. You think there’s some crazy chicken in there eating people, but it’s really just some man eating fried chicken.
Peter Jackson is a talented epic director; the Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit, King Kong – all epic movies. The Lovely Bones, to me, is a small story, centered on the lives of a small family in a small town. I’m sure the producers chose Jackson as director with the heaven sequences in mind. It seems like he focused more on CGI than on developing an actual story. The characters were not developed, the pacing was slow, and there wasn’t any excitement. I understand the story is a somber one, but in any drama we need a little tension or pieces of a puzzle coming together.
As an audience, we see melancholy moment, followed by weird heaven stuff, and then back to melancholia. And we have no idea what is even going on up there in heaven. Did Susie Salmon take the red pill and travel to Strawberry Fields? Seriously, heaven looked ridiculous. I felt like I was watching my sister’s Lisa Frank trapper keeper come to life.
Not really my sister.
I guess there is the argument that since it was Susie’s heaven, she would see images like that being a fourteen-year-old girl. But according to Susie’s weird little friend, she’s not in heaven. Apparently it’s the “in-between”. So is it her subconscious making these images appear? Not sure. I think Jackson should have scrapped the fancy schmancy heaven stuff and taken a minimalistic approach. I picture that episode of Family Ties when Alex’s friend dies in the car accident. The two of them talk and reflect on life on an empty stage. This produced the opposite effect that The Lovely Bones did. The audience has no choice but to reflect on the stories being told.
I also had issues with these two side characters that I assume had bigger roles in the book. There’s the dreamy older boy, Ray, and the psychic girl, Ruth. Neither of them is developed nor do they add anything to the story.
Susie apparently loved Ray, and Ray apparently loves Susie. I didn’t really buy that. He looks more like her principal. After Susie dies, she sees Ray in her In-Between (ha ha). There is one ridiculously cheesy moment when Susie finds him waiting for her by a lake, and his face reflects off the water. It looks more like something out of Twilight than anything I’d expect from Peter Jackson.
I expected Ruth to be an interesting character, but she added absolutely nothing. I thought for sure she’d help Susie’s family solve the mystery, but she doesn’t. She just sees Susie sometimes and is like, “Oh weird. Hey Susie.” The only time Ruth uses her mad ghost whispering skills is at the end, and it’s probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in any movie ever. Imagine if the movie Exorcist mated with an episode of Saved by the Bell. This scene would be that couple’s baby. It's a very ugly baby.
The other characters, while on screen more frequently, aren’t all that interesting either. Mark Wahlberg plays a concerned dad who misses his daughter. That's great but I think if I were looking for my daughter I’d be randomly punching people on the street until they confessed, not just kinda moping around like a sad sack. Rachel Weisz plays the mother, but she’s barely in the movie. That’s disappointing because she is attractive. Susan Sarandon is a fine actress but her part as the grandmother was just irritating and didn’t fit the movie.
There were just too many unlikable elements in The Lovely Bones. I’m extremely disappointed that I didn’t like it. The only positive thing about this movie is Stanley Tucci. What a guy. I swear, I’ve liked every one of his roles – even in The Devil Wears Prada. He's really good in this and is extremely creepy. So, Stanley, you earned The Lovely Bones one sticker. Congratulations.
I've waited forever for a reason to post this: