The Lovely Bones

January 31, 2016 - Peter Jackson directs this adaptation of Alice Sebold's tale of girl murdered by a child predator. Saoirse (seer-suh) Ronan stars as the teenage victim. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play her devastated parents. Stanley Tucci earned a Supporting Actor nomination for his role as the pervert. And, Susan Sarandon as the dysfunctional grandma makes the most of her screen time.

The year is 1973 and 14-year-old Susie Salmon (Ronan) is a lively high school freshman from the Norristown area who loves taking photographs. She's caught the eye of a handsome senior who wrote her a mushy poem. Unfortunately for Susie, she's also been noticed by her neighbor (Tucci), a creepy man named George Harvey.

One afternoon, on the way home from school, Susie cuts through the cornfield and encounters Mr. Harvey. He wants to show her the underground bunker that he built right there in the cornfield. Susie agrees and realizes too late that she’s never getting out. The movie is narrated by Susie as she journeys toward Heaven while also trying to keep an eye on her struggling family back on Earth. The cops have no clues as to Susie's killer, and it's left to Susie's chain-smoking, alcoholic grandmother to keep the family together.

Overall review: *** The movie runs about 2:15 (though apparently the final 15 minutes are credits. I only watched a little of that). It also apparently omits some key points from the book (including Susie's rape; the movie lets the viewer assume what may have happened). Having said that, I found the movie generally interesting, although Jackson does get a little carried away, I think, by his heavenly fantasy sequences. They're reminiscent of his work in 1994's Heavenly Creatures, which is based on a real-life murder case. Anyway, it's not great, but I think it deserves more than two stars, so I'm rounding up.