I Have a Lovely Bone to Pick

Sasha more or less nominated The Lovely Bones to receive my latest scathing cinematic review when she sent me the link to Tucson Weekly’s own review of the film, which starts as follows:

"If Funshine Care Bear came to life and excreted an enormous amount of feces, that feces would be the movie The Lovely Bones.
It’s a steaming, treacly pile of excrescence, frosted with visuals that look like they were adapted from the pink lace-covered dream journal of a unicorn-collecting scrapbooker. Essentially, if Walt Disney made a movie about the rape and murder of a teenager, this is the movie he’d make."
I’m not sure I can put it any better or funnier than that, but after wasting two hours watching the film, I’m at least going to try. Be aware, I will be spoiling the film, so don’t read if you want to see the film untarnished. HINT: You do not want to see this movie. It’s probably worth noting that I’ve never read the bestselling novel on which this film is based, mainly because watching crap is less time-consuming than reading it.

The Lovely Bones stars Mark[y Mark & the Funky Bunch] Wahlberg as a devoted father, but I’d argue that it’s impossible to see him with 70s era clothing and haircut as anything but a pornstar in Boogie Nights. Alas, his penis stays in his pants but (spoiler!) the film’s other leading man, Stanley Tucci, can’t say the same. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The real protagonist is Walberg’s daughter, fourteen-year-old Susie. She likes to take photographs of her unnamed chubby neighbor and deliver whispery faux-poignant yet ultimately meaningless narration. Susie feels some heightened sense of importance since she is narrating from the grave, sort of like the Desperate Housewives gimmick.

Though just a freshman, Susie has a crush on a senior. Her Slutty Grandma, played by Hey-I-Know-How-To-Do-That-Role Susan Sarandon, suggests that she just kiss him already, before admitting that her first kiss was with an older man. (Susie will ultimately non-consensually follow in Grandma’s footsteps.) Susie expresses regret for having a crush on this boy since it makes her oblivious to the fact that her neighbor, Tucci, wants to rape her. In these situations, it lacks tact to blame the girl, but if she is willing to accept some responsibility…

One evening, Susie tells Daddy Wahlberg that one of her friends has a crush on him. He doesn’t seem to care, which makes her upset. Clearly, Susie has not yet learned the lesson that things work out for the best when men don’t have romantic interests in minors. Wahlberg is too caught up in building ships in bottles. As he works, he delivers a nonsensical monologue about how he is the obsessive type and and will not rest until he gets the job done. This scene is important because it shows he is fucking nuts even before tragedy strikes.

Susie receives a couple dozen rolls of film for her birthday and uses them all up immediately. Her parents are upset and don’t want to spend that much money, so they agree to develop one roll of film a month. Similarly, Susie is upset, because she really wants to have copies of that chubby teenaged neighbor she was stalking.

In the meantime, eerie neighbor Tucci builds an elaborate underground chamber beneath a cornfield. There are houses visible behind it, so how no one notices a man with a trademarked molester mustache digging such a big hole and spending months there is implausible. Once it is finished, Tucci invites Susie to check out the clubhouse he built. Finally taking some advice from Slutty Grandma at the wrong time, Susie plays coy for half a second and then climbs underground with this neighbor she’s met only once.

Oh, and then he rapes and kills her. Despite the enormous special effects budget, this act is only implied. Even though any dolt would have seen the writing on the underneath-the-cornfield-wall, it takes Susie a while to realize she’s dead. From then on, the movie follows the same exact plot line as The Sixth Sense. Okay, maybe not entirely, but the only reason I would have been surprised to see an appearance from Haley Joel Osment is because surely no one would cast him in anything anymore.

When Susie never returns home, her family calls the police and an investigation ensues. Though Tucci is questioned, the police press it no further, despite him practically having handed them an ID with the name Creepy McCreeperson. Simultaneously, Wahlberg starts his own “this-is-my-new-ship-in-the-bottle-obsession” investigation, wildly accusing any man in town, including one man simply because he is a janitor. On the edge of a nervous breakdown, Susie’s mom moves away to work on an orchard to distract herself and pretends that Susie was never born.

But don’t feel bad for Susie – she’s having a great time. The entire special effects budget goes toward making a fantastical world for Susie to play in. Purgatory is like an amusement park and she is just having so much fun with her new friends (former victims of the same serial killing neighborhood.) Being raped and murdered: underrated.

Bored and maniacal, Wahlberg continues to develop Susie’s film, found in a box labeled “Rolls to Develop.” For a moment, I thought the movie was self-aware, until I realized that it did not say “Roles to Develop.” The last roll has a picture of Tucci in it (a photo Susie had accidentally taken in happier times), so Wahlberg’s all, “It must be him!” By the same token, why isn’t the chubby neighbor the killer? By chance, however, his latest accusation is right, just as Susie’s younger sister, Lindsey, develops her own suspicions toward Tucci because her dog barked at him. Dogs know a rapist when they smell one.

Tucci now starts building a hut in which to kill Lindsey because she’s cute and clearly suspicious of him. Wahlberg, the dork that he is, goes over and helps with the construction of said hut. He really should stick to ships in a bottle. He then freaks out and asks about Susie and Tucci hides in his home. Later, he tries to follow Tucci into the cornfield, but instead stumbles upon a teenage couple getting it on. Frightened, the boy proceeds to beat the shit out of Wahlberg, who is hospitalized, yet not institutionalized as the situation

Lindsey does not give up the hunt, however. She breaks into Tucci’s home in search of evidence. She finds where Tucci has kept a lock of Susie’s hair (romantic!), but Tucci arrives home just then and catches her! She dives out the second story window and narrowly escapes with evidence in hand. Knowing he’s caught, Tucci immediately packs some things and leaves. Lindsey races to her home in time to find her mom has returned and instantly fallen back in love with her dad. There’s nothing like abandoning your family and getting beat up by a guy half your age to reignite some romance. Those precious moments slightly delay a call to the police, so Tucci gets away.

Now that the murder is solved (though the murderer is at large and has eyes on Lindsey, so I don’t see the resolution here), Susie is free to go to heaven, which is apparently even better than the utopia of purgatory, but she won’t go until she finishes one last thing. She enters the body of Ruth (a minor character not worth mentioning until now) and proceeds to kiss the boy she has a crush on, who recognizes her as Susie. After all, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this movie, it’s that taking over another person’s body by force for the purpose of your own sexual satisfaction is perfectly fine. Finally, Susie had the first kiss she always wanted, which I guess goes to show what kind of lover Tucci is. (Too far?) Now she can go to heaven where all living girls only wish they could be!

Susie delivers one last whispered narration about how everything works out for the best. Her parents are back together, Ruth and the boy Susie had a crush on are now dating (which is NOT weird at all – hopefully he’s not calling out Susie’s name in the bed they are shown lying in), and young Lindsey is pregnant. Because teenage pregnancy is always a happy ending! Let’s just hope that’s not Tucci’s kid. Speaking of Tucci, he is still being creepy with some new young woman, when an icicle drops on him, causing him to slip and plunge off a cliff to his death where his body will never be discovered. So there’s justice, but nobody knows it. Sorry, Tucci. At least he’ll have heaven to look forward to!

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