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Movie Review: The Lovely Bones

Alternate Title: The In-between

Story: So what's wrong with this picture? Mostly, it will be very difficult for the millions of fans that loved the novel by Alice Sebold to stop comparing it to the book. A director, such as the famous Peter Jackson, had a thankless job when he tried to 'adapt' a beloved book to the big screen. Yet, Mr Jackson along with writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens gave it a shot.

Did they succeed? The short answer is no. The longer answer is maybe. The biggest problem is that Jackson crammed too much into this film. I remember the book to be refreshingly hopeful, often humorous and very focused considering the topic.

Young Susie Salmon is brutally raped and murdered (not shown in the movie). She dwells in a place called the in-between where she can observe her family as they try to cope with their loss and grief. Here is where the film does not succeed. Peter Jackson's reliance on his love of computer generated special effects gets all marshmellowy. Susie's 14 year old in-between place is mostly filled with puppies, rainbows, butterflies and goofy costumes. After one or two of these sequences I was into eye rolling.

The grief stricken family on terra firma is handled well but after about an hour, that too, turns into a formulaic thriller. We learn from the onset that the creep across the street is the murderer and it is just a matter of time before it all comes to a frenetic head-on collision.

Remember in 'Amadeus' when Emperor Joseph II complained to Mozart about The Marriage of Figaro having "too many notes?" Well that is my complaint to Peter Jackson This film has too much stuff. It is a murder mystery, a teenager in hormone hell film, a domestic tear duct factory and a corn ball depiction of the afterlife via CGI.

So should you see it? Sure, why not. The acting is fine, the production values are top rate and if you read the book it would be fun to talk about it with your movie buddies afterwards.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikUWKi0W5_g

Acting: Saoirse Ronan as Susie Salmon is a good little actress. She is credible and I look forward to seeing her in more films. Mark Wahlberg as Jack Salmon, replaced Ryan Gosling at the last minute when he dropped out of the film. I like Mark Wahlberg and he was fine as the grief stricken father. Rachel Weisz as Abigail Salmon, was her usual competent self. I had a hard time accepting that Susan Sarandon now plays a Grandmother. I know she is old enough - but still. Her part is a comic relief role that honestly does not fit. Stanley Tucci as creepy neighbor George Harvey was suitably detestable. Michael Imperioli as policeman Len Fenerman, does not have a whole lot to do. Rose McIver as the sister, Lindsey, was terrific. The rest of the supporting cast was fine including: Christian Thomas Ashdale (Buckley Salmon), Carolyn Dando (Ruth) and Reece Ritchie (Ray Singh).

Trivia: Saoirse Ronan's first name is Irish and means 'freedom'. Although she was born in New York City, she was raised in Ireland. In 2008, at the age of 13, she became the seventh youngest actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Atonement (2007). The only actresses younger than her to be nominated are Tatum O'Neal, Mary Bedham, Quinn Cummings, Abigail Breslin, Patty McCormack and Anna Paquin. Rachel Weisz's parents escaped to England from central Europe before the start of WWII. She won her Oscar for playing a pregnant woman in The Constant Gardener (2005) while she was pregnant in real-life with her first child.

Predilection: I liked the book.

Critters: A loyal golden retriever named Holiday and lots of dogs are seen in the In-between. (good to know).

Food: Lima beans, corn on the cob, pork chops and oatmeal.

Soundtrack: Sappy at times and scary at times.

Opening Titles: An opening vignette of a young Susie Salmon with her adoring Dad. The only thing you see is the title of the film after that. All of credits are at the end of the film.

Visual Art: The 1970's are depicted well in the homes and of course Peter Jackson's flair with CGI is well known. The In-between is a bit like a Celestial Seasoning's or Claritin commercial - all rainbows and puppies.

Theater Audience: About 20 other people.

Weather: We get to see the family mourn through the 12 months after Susie's murder.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Stanley Tucci is extremely squirmy.

Drift Factor: I drifted in the In between.

Predictability Level: I read the book.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: The artistry of the filmmaker warrants the big screen.

Length: Two hours and 15 minutes.