Only a deeply pathetic creature would brag about scooping Variety on Rachel Weisz being cast in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, so I’ll just pretend I didn’t bring it up last Saturday in my cockamamie new column (after sitting on it for two weeks). Since I was more than a little wrong about Warner Brothers winning the rights to The Lovely Bones last month, I thought I’d wait until I could get some kind of firm confirmation. Unfortunately, the trades still considered the official channel for breaking this news, so maybe next time I’ll trust my sources and not wait for the studio to confirm.
Enough about my news gathering woes. This is genuinely great news for a project that has enormous potential if Jackson is able to strike the right balance of sadness, gallows humor and good old-fashioned Hollywood sentimentality. Ever since The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jackson has exhibited a troubling predilection for mawkishness – a surprise considering that his first studio effort, The Frighteners, was so sedulously unsentimental. Judging from the wonderful screenplay written with Fran Walsh and Philippa "Queen of the Geeks" Boyens, Jackson has gotten back in touch with his ruthless side; done right, The Lovely Bones will be as emotionally jarring as it is heartwarming.
Now that Jackson got his labor of love, King Kong, out of his system, I believe he’s ready to come out swinging with a lean and mean motion picture that could very well net him a second Best Picture trophy. For longtime fans of the filmmaker, this could be the return to true, Heavenly Creatures-type greatness. With Weisz aboard as the grieving mother, it’ll be interesting to see who Jackson turns to for the father (now that Hugh Jackman turned the role down), and whether or not he gives in to the obvious and goes with Dakota Fanning as the lead.