“The Lovely Bones”

I’m mixed on Peter Jackson.  Meet the Feebles was delightfully perverse and over the top. I loved Lord of the Rings, but I haven’t had a pang to watch it in a long, long time.  I really liked King Kong in the theater, but sold the DVD back maybe 3 months after buying it.  Once I’m done going “OOOO THAT’S SHINY,” I don’t care anymore.

The Lovely Bones is his newest movie, and it’s really damn weird.  That Girl From Atonement stars as Susie Salmon, an easygoing, happy girl that’s brutally murdered by Stanley Tucci.  (That really isn’t a spolier, by the way; Tucci is so obviously a creep that his character’s name should have been Lyle Kidmurderington IV).  After her demise, Susie spends her time groovin’ in some sort of Pre-Heaven where she’s surrounded by swirly computer graphics and talking to other dead kids or something, including a little girl in pigtails who is so mystical, all of her lines are clearly overdubbed.

I have a theory:  The Creator of this magical place was eager to use it as a dumping ground for special effects.  Otherwise, a lot of the time spent in Heavatory was kinda pointless.  The Lovely Bones teaches us that before one gets to Heaven, one must stand in one spot and stare at stuff, in between running around in grain.

Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play The Girl From Atonement‘s parents.  One thing I liked is that Jackson clearly tried to edit Wahlberg out of the movie as much as he could.  His performance is atrocious (but better than The Happening).  There’s a scene where he’s talking to Michael Imperioli that caused me to start laughing, until I realized I probably shouldn’t have been laughing.  You know how Wahlberg gets a case of Overly Earnest Big Eyes when he’s trying to be serious?  Yeah, he did that.

That’s another thing about the movie:  The tone shifts all over the place.  Sometimes it wants to be an intense thriller, other times a small 70s period drama, and other times a goofball New Agey acid trip..  There’s all kinds of whooshing and whirring; It’s the kind of movie where Wahlberg’s walking at the mall and people let out a loud WHOOOOOOSH when they walk past him.  There are two musical montages set in the movie, including a comedy one with Susan Sarandon (more on her later) that comes right after Susie’s murdered!  It’s a bizarre choice to make.  I half expected Tucci’s character to prance around to “Pretty Woman” while trying on different human skins.

The 70s period drama stuff might have been interesting if Jackson could shoot in that style, but instead it’s an endless series of quick cuts and steadicam shots and swooping crane shots and BUMPITY THUMP BUMP and SHPA-TANNNNGG!!  Keep in mind, this is all going on in a living room.  Peter Jackson doesn’t do restraint.

The perfect example of the just plain bad choices in this film is Susan Sarandon’s grandma character, a sassy boombalassy that drinks and smokes and is just plain KER-RAAAZY!  She’s not in the film long enough to really build to anything. so what little is there just doesn’t work.  On the other hand, her character perfectly sums up the wrongheadedness of The Lovely Bones:  In a movie about child murder, she’s the wacky granny.


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