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The Lovely Bones (2010)

Rating: 7/10

Stanley Tucci is far, far away from being Julia Childs’s fabulous husband from Julie & Julia, and I feel like I should go watch that movie again just to cleanse my Tucci palette.  In The Lovely Bones, he’s the epitome of creepy pedophilia/kid murdering, and it’s hard to figure how he didn’t wind up with an Oscar—seriously, the only thing more evil HAD to be Christoph Waltz’s Nazi. Scary stuff. I didn’t read the book, so I came in expectation-free, but despite some weird CG and a few plot inconsistencies, The Lovely Bones is a surprisingly interesting crime drama that throws in characters and the afterlife for good measure.

Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) lets us in on the end of the big mystery as it begins—she’s been killed, is speaking from beyond the grave, and her killer is uber-scary gardener/dollhouse builder George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). There’s no false hope for us that she’s alive, but we get a front row seat as her father (Mark Wahlberg) becomes obsessed with finding her killer, her mother (Rachel Weisz) detaches from the family altogether, and the man who violated and murdered her prepares to strike again as she deals with the reality of being dead.

If you were one of those fans that loved the book, you’re probably going to have a lot of issues with its cinematic counterpart—I talked to a friend who had read it (and NOT liked it), and while she said the film actually sounded better than the novel, there are some pretty major differences. From a movie standpoint, however, The Lovely Bones is engaging, well-acted, and unique. Besides Tucci, Ronan is able to capture exactly the essence of Susie’s balance of 14-year-old girl innocence, liking a boy and photography,  a little too naïve to resist a nice-seeming neighbor with a secret clubhouse, but smart enough to feel uneasy, even if it is too late. Plus, for a story that pretty much narrates where it’s going to end up from the first few seconds, it’s got its share of suspense. My big gripe isn’t Peter Jackson’s abundant use of CG in Susie’s Limbo Land; if anything, some of the scenes are reminiscent of Borovnia in Heavenly Creatures, and even if they’re over the top at times, they look fantastic and lend the whole thing enough surreal feel to balance gritty crime with otherworldly afterlife. I just wish that some characters who felt like they should have been more developed, like Ruth Connors or Susie’s mother, could have been given a little more screen time in exchange for some of Susie’s limbo wandering.

It's Got: Scary Stanley Tucci, Surprising suspense, Some cool visuals

It Needs: Better use of Susan Sarandon, More character development of some, A little less CG

DVD Extras None


The Lovely Bones is, as a movie not living in the shadow of the book upon which it is based, unique and engaging, and full of a very frightening Stanley Tucci.