Monday, January 18, 2010

'The Lovely Bones' - some suspense, but mostly weird

I have to start out by saying that a grown man should never go alone to see a movie about a grown man stalking and killing teen girls in a movie theater filled with teen girls. It’s just creepy. I unfortunately forgot my notebook, which would have been some protection, as the audience would have assumed I was writing about the movie or at the very least not that into it. Since I did not have that shield, as the movie progressed I became more aware off the odd and very uncomfortable looks I was getting from some of the other audience members. Walking out of the theater after the film, I overheard a conversation that sums up this film pretty succinctly. The guy said to his date, ‘Sorry hun, it sounded OK reading about it, but it was just weird.’

What a weird movie, and believe me, I’ve seen a lot of weird movies. It’s like nothing really gelled here. Which is too bad since I had somewhat high expectations from the director of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy Peter Jackson. The movie was a drama/thriller/fantasy/love story/ whatever other genre he could cram in there and almost none of it worked. It’s as if the film couldn’t decide what it wanted to be and so it threw in the whole kitchen sink. This method however, left the movie feeling disjointed and odd. The music was really distracting as well. Why would we want to see images of mourning backed by Jazz music? Weird.

‘The Lovely Bones’ is a film about a girl (played by Saoirse Ronan) who is murdered and must watch how her family deals with the grieving process from a place in between death and heaven. I had assumed that her mission would be for her to aid her family in their grief, or lead them to her killer or perhaps grow in some way she never had a chance to in life (that last can be debated). Unfortunately, all she does is walk around weird set pieces, amazing visual effects and stand in a gazebo looking at everything going on. It’s pretty anti-climatic. She does an OK acting job, but did little to dispel the urge I had to kick her in the throat after watching her annoying turn in ‘Atonement’.

The film wasn’t all-bad. Props to Stanly Tucci for making the bad guy seem extra smarmy, and for Susan Sarandon for trying her hardest to inject some sort of fun and humor into the joyless movie. The strongest parts were the thriller parts. There was some actual tension there and you could tell the director knew what he was doing building scenes of ‘will he/won’t she get caught’. The most successful part can be attributed more to Hitchcock than Peter Jackson. As the investigation and the family searched for the girls Murderer, there are a few scenes where the killer comes ever so close to being caught, and we as an audience hold our breaths because we know he may actually get caught. I really wanted him to be caught but it was shot in such a suspenseful way that we almost feel sympathy for the criminal in that he ‘made a mistake’

That aside, those two or three tense scenes are not enough to redeem a film, which is ultimately about a girl standing around in the afterlife. I have never read the book, and hear it is great, but from this picture, I probably won’t be picking it up anytime soon. Hopefully Peter Jackson can do much better as a producer for ‘The Hobbit’ that he did as a director of ‘The Lovely Bones’. Until then, we’ll have to lament the corpse of a movie that could have been…cue the Jazz music.

Final Consensus:
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
See it in BluRay!!

Rent it on DVD!
Don’t Bother.

***UPDATE***
As proof that this should not be a movie that single older men should go see, Box Office Mojo sent out this article highlighting the Audience for the film:

"Distributor Paramount Pictures' marketing targeted young females, selling the picture as a supernatural thriller, emotionally charged with its father-daughter relationship. The studio's research showed an audience composition of 72 percent female and 40 percent 20 years old and younger."

Wish I would have known this before I went to the theater by myself. I'm such a loser.
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