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The Lovely Bones Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Alert the Golden Raspberry people immediately... Read full review


Jen Yamato Profile

Creepy angst in the afterlife. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    I watched the film in an agitated space between engrossed and aghast.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Some books are not meant to be adapted to the big screen. Alice Sebold's best-selling The Lovely Bones falls into that category.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Jackson and his team tell a fundamentally different story. It's one that is not without its tension, humor and compelling details. But it's also a simpler, more button-pushing tale that misses the joy and heartbreak of the original.

    Read Full Review

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    A sad-but-hopeful, dramatic-but-gentle fairy tale intentionally made less upsetting for teens.

    Read Full Review

  • See all The Lovely Bones reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Haunting mystery-drama examines a child's murder.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that director Peter Jackson's drama based on Alice Sebold's best-selling book The Lovely Bones centers on the aftermath of an enormous tragedy: the death of a child (though the actual death itself isn't shown on screen). The intense subject matter -- murder and molestation -- may overwhelm younger teens. Although the movie's messages about love and loss are ultimately positive, the film is often deeply sorrowful and, at times, quite violent (images include dead bodies, bloody clothes, and more). Language includes mostly name-calling; there's also some kissing, and one older character smokes and drinks in front of children.

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Do the violence and intense subject matter make it harder to see the positive take-aways, or do they come through?
  • How does the impact of the violence in a movie like this compare to that of an action/sci-fi movie? Which affects you more? Why?
  • Talk about the events that lead up to Susie’s murder. What lessons can be gleaned from the tragedy? Why is Susie stuck in the in-between?
  • How did Susie’s death affect everyone, including herself? Dothese reactions seem believable? How doeseveryone find peace?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Though it centers on a shocking murder, the movie takes great pains to juxtapose the violence with love and domesticity. Loss, though destabilizing, is portrayed as far from decimating. Death isn’t explored as an end but a passage.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Yes, there’s a murderer/pedophile involved, but besides him, the movie's characters are decent and earnest -- as well as realistically imperfect. Though the mother reacts in a surprising way to her daughter’s death, her love for her child comes through; the father is more textbook caring. And the younger sister is impressive in her courage and determination.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Brief flashes of a man grabbing and throwing a teenager to the floor and against the wall (though her actual death takes place off screen). He’s also shown carrying a bloody bag and soaking in a tub, his blood-stained clothing strewn on the floor. The sink is filled with bloodied water. A safe that presumably holds a corpse is repeatedly shown. The bodies of a serial killer's victims are shown in the various places where they were dumped. A teenager beats up a man with a baseball bat; the man is later shown bruised and battered.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Some kissing. Implied pedophilia.

  • language false3

    Language: One "f--k," plus occasional use of words like "hell" and "oh God" (as an exclamation). Also some name-calling, including “jerk off,” “moron,” and “stupid.”

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Some labels and signage are visible (Kodak, Seventeen magazine).

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A grandmother chain-smokes and drinks heavily in front of her grandchildren.