I may be dead, but at least I’m not in macrame class

The Lovely Bones

Another disappointment from Jackson, which can either make The Hobbit not come fast enough, or make me worry about it being made at all. At least Guillermo del Toro is on board, exponentially increasing their chunky bearded nerd power. Maybe they’ll smash together like Station! from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and make one giant supernerd. The lovely Bones has a lot going for it- excellent performances by Stanley Tucci as the creepy serial murderer, and Saoirse Ronan as Suzie Salmon, his young victim, and our narrator. She’s the one to watch here; she was stunning as young Briony in Atonement, and wows yet again as the believable, freckled ’70s teen who watches her family deal with her disappearance from the afterlife.
The concept is intriguing, but the film lacks focus and was rather shockingly marketed to a young audience- which freaked the shit out of Roger Ebert- and rightly so. But I’m not going to be as harsh as he was. The film’s crime is its length and meandering. Suzie’s ghost brushes a young goth girl as she passes to the other side, and she can sense her, but very little happens with it. Her family is in anguish, except for Susan Sarandon as drinky grandma who seems totally out of place in this story, despite giving an amusing performance. We know Suzie is murdered, so as her last day drags on, we aren’t in suspense, but dread. As her murder goes unsolved, it simmers into angst, and as she peers down as a vengeful ghost wishing death upon the monster who murdered her, we are given some very mixed cues. Her father- Mark Wahlberg- becomes obsessed with solving her disappearance, but it’s made almost comical. Wrong tone. Her younger, bratty sister matures and catches the eye of her neighbor, while Suzie dances through CG heaven with his other victims.
In the end, it just feels wrong. Like Ebert, my first feeling was “boy, I wanna be raped and murdered by a creepy pedophile, so I can go to Where Dreams May Come!” It’s a grave mistake for a story where the brutal lack of justice in the world puts us so on edge that the lack of satisfaction might make us take up torches and pitchforks, and look up our neighborhood sex offenders, or worse yet give youths the idea that the afterlife is a bitchin’ place to be. Personally I like the Sumerian concept of the afterlife, where you stumble around with a mouthful of dirt; nothing like a clod of soil on your tongue to make you appreciate life, eh?

It turns out heaven is a lot like a default Windows background.

Firecracker didn’t like it much either, and she’s read the book. Is the movie worth seeing? I’d at most catch a matinee or better yet, rent it. You’ll miss some of the beautiful visuals, but to be honest, Where Dreams May Come was more memorable in that regard. That movie had problems too, but its unforgettable images of heaven and hell will outlast even Tucci’s lauded performance, which seems more like a reward for tackling so unpleasant a role.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 dead kids

© 2010 Thomas Pluck.