The Lovely Bones Parent Guide
Devoid of any sense of justice, any positive message for grieving parents or even a convincing conclusion, the film offers very little compensation for enduring its two hours of runtime.
Parent Movie Review
A child predator lives in the heart of a quiet 1970s Pennsylvania neighborhood, unbeknownst to the other residents who drive up and down the street on their way to work and walk their dogs in the evening. But George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) is watching—and waiting for the perfect moment to attack his prey. Building an elaborate dugout in the middle of an isolated cornfield, he fills it with games and toys and bottled drinks to lure his victim. Then from a distance, he stalks his 14-year-old neighbor, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) until one evening he catches her alone.
If nothing else, Peter Jackson’s crime thriller is sure to heighten suspicions among parents and add fuel to what media researcher George Gerbner referred to as the Mean World Syndrome. Taking on a decidedly different theme from his Lord of the Rings series, Jackson’s opening scenes build incredible tension as the audience waits for the inevitable event—Susie’s murder. Fortunately it takes place off screen, sparing viewers from the graphic details. A blood-splattered bathroom and burlap bag oozing with blood are the only signs of the girl’s gruesome death. (Later, however, disturbing images of other decomposing corpses are shown.)
Yet after the powerful beginning, Jackson’s grip goes limp when the girl’s spirit travels to a space between here and heaven. Her reluctance to leave her family appears to be the reason for her inability to complete the journey to her final destination. Watching her grieving parents (Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz) and alcoholic, chain-smoking grandmother (Susan Sarandon) come to grips with her disappearance is difficult. The strain of it tears at her parent’s marriage and the entire family’s stability. Her father’s ongoing accusations and attempt to identify the murderer also threatens his relationship with the town’s detective (Michael Imperiolo). However, months later, Susie’s younger sister Lindsey (Rose McIver) begins to have suspicions about the reclusive man who eerily watches the neighborhood from the front seat of his darkened car.
A shrewd editor may have helped trim this protracted production that belabors Susie’s experience in the afterlife. Thanks to teams of creative special effects creators and set designers, the visual effects depicting the hereafter are often stunning, but they offer little value to the plot. The script also introduces an abundance of teasers, including a small charm ripped from a bracelet and a love letter written by a teenaged boy, that fail to amount to anything other than distractions in the storyline.
While The Lovely Bones begins as the gripping tale of a methodical, rapacious killer (played with precision by Stanley Tucci), in the end, it stumbles, without any apparent purpose or point in mind. Devoid of any sense of justice, any positive message for grieving parents or even a convincing conclusion, the film offers very little compensation for enduring its two hours of runtime.Directed by Peter Jackson. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Peter Jackson.. Running time: 135 minutes. Theatrical release January 15, 2010. Updated July 17, 2017
The Lovely Bones
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Lovely Bones rated PG-13? The Lovely Bones is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for mature thematic material involving disturbing violent content and images, and some language.
This film deals with the mature theme of a child predator who murders his victims. While viewers are spared the gratuitous details of a young girl’s death, a blood-splattered room is seen along with a knife and burlap bag covered in blood. A couple argues, as well as a mother and daughter. A man is hit repeatedly with a baseball bat and fists. Decaying corpses are shown. A character falls to his death. Ominous portrayals of predatory actions are shown. An adult woman smokes and drinks continuously, including while in bed. An older teen is also seen smoking. A married couple is seen briefly kissing and embracing passionately before the lights are dimmed. A woman confesses to kissing an adult male while she was a teenager. Teens are shown kissing briefly. A man comments on watching a teen couple engage in a sexually oriented activity in a cornfield. Afterlife experiences are depicted. Infrequent profanities are included in the script, but do include a sexual expletive, scatological terms and two terms of deity.
Page last updated July 17, 2017
The Lovely Bones Parents' Guide
How do Susie’s parents grieve differently over her disappearance? What impact can the loss of a child have on a couple and the rest of the family? The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy offers ideas for families facing the death of a child.
Founded in 1984, The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is one of several resources for parents and law enforcement officers involved in the location of missing children. The organization offers suggestions for parents to help keep their children safer.
How are child predators stereotyped in this film? What does the script say about misjudging those who may "appear" to be the predatory type?
The most recent home video release of The Lovely Bones movie is April 20, 2010. Here are some details…
The Lovely Bones releases to DVD and Blu-ray on April 20, 2010.
The Lovely Bones on Blu-ray includes:
- Filming The Lovely Bones (A production diary hosted by Peter Jackson and Philippa Boyens that follows the films shoot and post-production work on the visual effects.)
Related home video titles:
In The Invisible, a boy is caught in limbo between death and life until he can help those who can’t see him solve the mystery behind his disappearance. In Changeling another mother desperately seeks information about her missing son, even though a boy claiming to be her child has been returned to her. Stanley Tucci has a long resume of movie characters, including many who are far less ominous than George Harvey. He plays the husband of chef Julia Child in Julie & Julia, a political campaign manager in Swing Vote and a power hungry airport director in The Terminal.
The Lovely Bones is based on the novel by Alice Sebold.