Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

lemonysnickets_2004_poster
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
  • Time: 108 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Family
  • Director: Brad Silberling
  • Cast: Jim Carrey, Emily Browning, Jude Law, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Coolidge, Cedric the Entertainer

Storyline:

After the tragic death of their parents, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire travel from guardian to guardian by a good friend of their parents, Mr. Poe. The orphans stay with herpetologist Montgomery Montgomery and grammar-wise Josephine Anwhistle, but the worst one was Count Olaf, an evil and greedy man, who, with the help of his assistants, the bald man, the hook-handed man, the person of indeterminable gender, and the two white-faced women, tries to steal the Baudelaire fortune. To do this, he disguises himself in the forms of assistant, Stephano, and ship captain, Julio Sham.

One review

  • In case you didn’t already know, this is based on the first 3 books of the 13 books “A series of unfortunate events” series. Think of them as a crossbreed between Charles Dickens and Tim Burton aimed at children. The film has a peculiarly dark yet endearingly clever tone coming out mostly through the narrator (Lemony Snickett) talking to the audience (like he addressed the reader directly in the books) which was one of the parts I enjoyed the most. Visually, it looks amazing. The set design (Victorian mixed with modern), the stylish costumes, the evocative lighting are truly outstanding and even won prestigious awards. It’s also beautifully framed by the director. Jim Carrey as Count Olaff hams it up but it works perfectly with his evil “bad actor” role. The Baudelaire children look quite good and are very smart except they’re way too obedient for real children (but that works with the book characterizations and Victorian-like settings).

    The story is well told, engrossing even, but it seems to lose some steam near the end as it seems they patched an ending (that wasn’t in the books) in case there were no sequels. I have read that unfortunately, the first cut that was darker was modified because of test screenings. I do wonder if that’s why even though I really enjoyed this film and recommend it to children young and old alike, there seems to be a little something amiss that would have pushed it into the realm of greatness as if it had been watered down for the mass market. I do think however that if you’re a parent, the movie would incite your kid to read the series and if you’re already a fan of the books, you’re likely to appreciate it but mourn the lost scenes and creative liberties taken. Tim Burton’s fans (of which I am one) are likely to love it but wonder how much better it could have been directed by the master and not censored by executives. A warning for parents though that even though I think the dark tone is not inappropriate or exaggerated, there are several glimpses of scary animals and insects.

    Rating: 7 out of 10

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