The Lovely Bones (2009)

Genre(s): Drama / Thriller
DreamWorks || PG13 - 135 minutes || January 15, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-01-25

.:: F I L M ::.

Director: Peter Jackson
Writer(s): Alice Sebold (novel); Peter Jackson & Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens (screenplay)
Cast: Saorise Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon

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I went on opening day to see The Lovely Bones, hoping to see a film that was advertised as a mystery/thriller type of flick. Instead, what several others and myself witnessed was a giant mess of a film that was two-plus hours long that took forever to start, forever to end, and left us wondering what the heck was going on.

Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is a fourteen-year-old child who has been murdered. No, seriously, that’s how the movie begins and what you’ve seen time and time again in the previews. The neighbor down the road, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci), killed her and despite the fact he’s incredibly creepy, weird, and sets off all sorts of “he’s a psychopath killer” people are unaware of who he really is behind the mask he puts on. Her father, Jack (Mark Wahlberg), and his wife Abigail (Rachel Weisz), grieve over the loss of their daughter for months on end, even getting involved with police officer Len Fenerman (Michael Imperioli) who is about as smart as a rock but to no avail.

This leaves Susie in a state of limbo, where the world is perfect yet she can’t move on and her body is forever trapped until she chooses to move onto the next life. She meets another girl named Holly (Nikki SooHoo) who is stuck in this perfect world too yet still sad about the way her life ended. Susie can somehow contact people, although briefly and it’s never properly explained as to how or why she does or can do it, yet she only does it a few times throughout the movie and doesn’t leave anything helpful. Before she died, she was given a camera for her birthday that she took tons of pictures with, and once Jack decides to develop the photos he realizes Susie was trying to tell him who the killer really was the entire time. It’s up to Jack and the incompetent police department to solve Susie’s death, and put a stop to Harvey’s killing spree.

Here was the problem that I pointed out right at the start of the movie, and so did a few others that went to the film with me, was the fact that the movie treated viewers like they were seeing a fantasy flick. Susie’s role once she’s dead, which is about ten minutes into the movie, is literally a fantasy world that’s supposed to be limbo yet she sees the seasons change instantly and giant bouncing balls. Plus, the world changes constantly throughout seconds of movie time, but in the real world with Jack and the family time goes by at months at a time. It doesn’t make a lick of sense how Susie tried to contact Jack only a few times throughout the film, and when she does it doesn’t amount to anything. What’s the point of her trying to contact her father from the limbo world when she doesn’t say anything useful? Why not “Hey dad, I’m in limbo. Oh yeah, the killer is that creepy guy who buys dollhouses, lives by himself, glasses, and is really creepy.”

I mentioned briefly that the cops in the movie are stupid, and they are which bugs me to no end. Fenerman is an absolute idiot, and gives up searching for Susie only a few weeks into it despite Jack’s inquiries into EVERYONE ELSE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD BUT THE CREEPY GUY LIVING DOWN THE STREET! Heck, the police even visit Harvey’s house during the initial investigation but the cops miss the giant necklace Susie was wearing at the time of her death that Harvey kept as a souvenir. Good detective work officers, the necklace was right by you guys yet you missed it. Oh, they also missed the giant red flag that the guy has a bunch of dollhouses, yet no kids, yet no wife, and yet no reason to really have them other than the lame excuse he gives that “it’s a hobby.” Bravo, detectives, bravo.

I give credit to Wahlberg, Weisz, and Tucci for the film. They can’t help the film though with the crappy plot, crappy writing, and just plain boring flick. At over two hours long, I could have easily trimmed out at least forty minutes of the movie and still had the same story told. The side story about some cast out goes nowhere until the end of the movie, and even then, still sucks.

A terrible plot, way too long of a running time, and horrible writing make these bones not too lovely to see.