Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
|Genre(s): Adventure / Comedy / Family / Fantasy|
|Paramount || PG - 113 minutes || December 17, 2004|
|Reviewer: Chris Gonzalez || Posted On: 2004-12-18|
Writer(s): Daniel Handler (books); Robert Gordon (screenplay)
Cast: Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Jude Law, Emily Browning, Lian Aiken, Cedric the Entertainer, Billy Connolly
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In the opening moments of the film our narrator warns the audience that the film we are about to see isnít a pleasant one. Iím here to warn you that I havenít read any of the Lemony Snicket books so if youíre a huge fan whoís going to be upset about small changes in the adaptation, leave now. That aside, Lemony Snicketís A Series of Unfortunate Events is a wonderful, hilarious, moody little story just in time for Christmas.
The film tells the tale of three young children left orphaned after their parents die in a mysterious fire completely burning down their house and leaving nothing but memories behind. As we are told, Violet, the eldest loves to invent, Klaus loves to read, and Sunny, the infant loves to bite anything she can get her mouth on. The film goes through them being placed with three different guardians. The main guardian is the sinister Count Olaf who makes every scene heís in a great one. Heís centered on murdering the children and inheriting their great fortune.
The children are played by Emily Browning, Liam Aiken, and filling the role of Sunny are twins Shelby and Kara Hoffman. Browning as Violet is pitch perfect as the leader of the trio, always having the solution, and taking one for the team whenever necessary (particularly when she agrees to marry Olaf to save her baby sister). Aiken has some trouble being believable a good amount of the time, but when heís not talking too much he sinks into the role well enough. The real highlight(s) are the Hoffman twins as Sunny, who speaks in babbles but is provided with witty subtitles. Her expressions and babblings always manage at least a chuckle and make you care for the children in general a lot more. Jim Carrey plays Count Olaf and is reason enough to see the film. Like he does most of the time, he takes the role, elevates it to a certain level of entertainment or unpredictability and maintains it the whole time. He slips in and out of different characters and is absolutely hysterical in every one of them. Billy Connolly plays the loveable Uncle Monty and Meryl Streep is very fun as the quirky Aunt Josephine.
While the acting is great and Carrey is brilliant, the best quality the film has to offer are its technical aspects. The production design and art direction is easily the best the whole year has had to offer. Itís as if the atmosphere and mood of Tim Burtonís best films has been blended with Sam Mendes style of shooting into the perfect blend. The attitude of the film and characters in general is demented, sarcastic, and dripping in mood, but it also has a goofy side to it which is amazingly complemented by the sets, costumes, and effects. Since the film is so dreary itís hard to completely connect with the characters and their situations even though the last five minutes are beautifully executed and are a resounding beacon of hope.
Directed by Brad Silberling (Moonlight Mile, Casper) A Series of Unfortunate Events is a perfectly made, well acted, and breezy trip through a Gothic carnival with a muderdous Jim Carrey as your guide.