This may look like heaven. Don’t be fooled.
Bad movies are a dime a dozen. Disastrously bad movies are more rare. The Lovely Bones is one of them.
A disastrously bad movie needs to squander great potential. The Lovely Bones is based on a pretty good book, by Alice Sebold. It’s directed by Peter Jackson, who made some movies about hobbits that you probably watched. It has a cast that features Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci. (More on him in a second.) And the character Susie Salmon, the fourteen-year-old girl who, after she has been murdered, narrates the story from a place called The In-Between because it is neither heaven nor hell, is played perfectly by Saoirse Ronan. You’d think the hardest thing about making this movie would be casting Susie. That’s the only part the filmmakers got right.
The Lovely Bones veers between family drama, stalker thriller and fantasy mumbo-jumbo during those interminable In-Between scenes when Susie sees trees and and gazebos and fields of wildflowers. Jackson did not need special effects to make Heavenly Creatures. He should’ve been banned from using them here.
What’s especially vile is that Tucci’s character, the killer — “George” — is practically fondled over by the filmmakers. You get the impression watching this movie that Jackson is most fascinated not with Susie’s netherwordly predicament nor her parents’ grief but with the twisted, perverse workings of George’s mind. But what’s going on in that mind? What compels the man to rape and murder young girls? We never know. Who would want to know? So why does Jackson warp his movie to accommodate this sicko?
Roger Ebert put it best when he said, “The Lovely Bones is a deplorable film with this message: If you’re a 14-year-old girl who has been brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer, you have a lot to look forward to.”
So why did we watch it? It was free at the library. It’s also one of those movies you’re suckered into giving a chance because you figure it can’t be as bad as everyone says it was. Right? Wrong. It’s worse.
What’s especially nefarious about it, though, is that you keep watching it thinking that, at any moment, it will inexplicably (and despite all evidence to the contrary) become a good movie, or at least an intriguing movie. There must be some satisfaction in seeing Tucci’s douchecreep get justice, right?
But no. There is absolutely none. Get this (this is not a spoiler alert, because you’ll never watch this movie, so no alert needed) — Tucci dies when an icicle falls and hits him, causing him to stumble over an embankment and fall to his death … where no one finds him and no one in Susie’s family ever finds closure. That’s right. Death By Icicle. And nobody finds the killer. But everybody seems sort of happy anyway.
Do not waste your time on The Lovely Bones. We had to cleanse our palate immediately after finishing it. Finding Nemo was a good choice. We should’ve just watched that one twice.