Movie Review: The Lovely Bones (Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci) 2009

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Drama
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Susie Salmon (Saorise Ronan) has a perfectly idyllic life for a 14 year old girl.  She builds model ships with her father, Jack (Mark Wahlberg).  The boy she has a crush on, Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie) not only likes her, but thinks she’s beautiful.  Unbeknownst to Susie, her perfect life is soon going to come to a grisly end.  Susie’s next door neighbor, George Harvey, (Stanley Tucci) is a serial child killer, and George stalks Susie, traps her in a room and kills her.  Susie’s spirit goes to purgatory, she’s not in heaven, not in hell, and she’s trying to get a message to her family about her killer before her spirit guide Holly (Nikki-Soo Hoo) takes her to heaven.  Does she succeed in getting the message to her family?   Or does the message get through to Ruth, (Carolyn Dando) a girl who’s sensitive to spiritual forces around her? Will George target Susie’s sister Lindsey (Rose McIver) before the police can nab him?

This movie is a genre blending catastrophe.  It tries to be teen romance, murder mystery, and psycho killer movie, with some spirituality mixed in, all at once, and it doesn’t succeed at any level.  It sends mixed messages at every turn.  One minute Susie is having a fashion show in Purgatory, the next minute she’s seeing the bodies of the serial killer’s victims wash up next to her.  This dichotomy begs the question who is the audience for this movie?  The serial killer scenes are far too creepy for teen girls, and the teen scenes, and too syrupy sweet for the adults.  Stanley Tucci is really, really creepy as the serial killer, to the point that I felt like I needed a shower after watching his performance.  Saorse Ronan is a good actress, but she looks too young for the romance piece, and too young to speak so wisely about the spiritual world.   Sarandon essentially does comedy relief in a movie about a serial killer where her granddaughter has been killed, a very off-putting role for an Oscar winner.  Peter Jackson is to blame for this movie too, he adds all these special effects to what should be a small, personal movie.  To top it off, there’s a scene near the end of the movie that goes off the sickly sweet end, and the denouement of the plot is breathtakingly stupid. Even the people who read the book aren’t happy because it doesn’t follow the book closely enough.

The Lovely Bones.  Many bones to pick with this movie.

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