Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Dan Goldwasser Movie Reviews

Went to The Grove with Edgar tonight to see Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I have not read any of the books. This film is based on the first three books in the series, but that doesn’t matter to someone like me, who had no preconception of what to expect from this film.

Anonymous author Lemony Snicket (clearly a pseudonym) is played (in silouhette and voice-over) by Jude Law, this making this his 84th film this year. His calm British demeanor sucks us into the tragic story of the Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and baby Sunny) whose parents are killed in a suspicious fire. They are then sent to live with their manipulative and conniving distant cousin, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). Olaf cares nothing for the children – just the large fortune he stands to inherit if tragedy were to befall them.

Through (ahem) a series of unfortunate events, the children deal with Olaf in his quest to claim what he believes to be rightfully his, as the children are sent to live with various relatives. Along the way, we encounter Uncle Monty the snake handler (Billy Connolly), and the extremely paranoid (and rightfully so!) Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep).

The big selling point of the film is Carrey’s performance as Count Olaf, and his multiple characters and personas that he takes on as he tries to decieve his way into amassing the fortune. Carrey is good, but not great – and he’s almost completely overshadowed by the 1.5-year old Sunny. It’s amazing what subtitles can do. Streep is quite good, as well as the other actors who play the children.

The film sports the same Cinematographer, Production Designer, Visual Effects producer and Art Director as in Sleepy Hollow, and it shows. The dark, gray look of the film is visually stunning, and I loved watching it unfold on the screen. Most of the visual effects were seamless, and you would be a fool not to stay for the first half of the kick-ass end credits, which have an amazing design.

The music was by Thomas Newman. This is not the type of film you would expect him to do, but his score works perfectly. It’s quirky but not comedic. And it is “off” just the right amount to provide the necessary underscore for the antics of Olaf, but also the peril that the children are placed in.

Directed by Brad Silberling, who is probably best known for Casper, the pacing on this film is just right. Never boring, always interesting, and a visual feast for the eyes. Unfortuantely the only thing truly missing was an emotinal core. But hey, you can’t always hit them out of the ballpark! Nonetheless, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is definitely a film to check out.