It can be a wonderful thing to sneak away from the daily routine, slip into a half-full theatre, and settle back to enjoy a lovely movie. This, dear reader, was sadly not my fate today. While I did vary my usual routine; and the theatre I settled into was, indeed, half-full; the story which unfolded before my eyes was far from lovely.
Recommend this product?
For how, I must ask, can one be asked to enjoy the recounting of such terrible tragedy, of such exquisite woe, of such dastardly villainy? How can one be asked to bear up under the stress of seeing Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events?
The Staggering Story
Weep if you will when I tell you that this movie is about a trio of young siblings--Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken) and Sunny Baudelaire (Kara and Shelby Hoffman)--who while frolicking at the shore learn the most terrible news. Their parents have been killed in a fire which has consumed their home. The kindly but misguided Mr. Poe, manager of their trust fund at the bank, has the responsibility of delivering the orphans to their new guardian, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). It is at this point that true despair sets in.
Count Olaf, a bad actor and worse housekeeper, has a genuine interest in the children... but only because he hopes to get his filthy hands on the Baudelaire fortune. On this unfortunate quest for riches, Olaf requires the children to share a single room, clean up his disgusting house, and cook dinner for his rag-tag troupe of thespian friends. This evil actor devises a plot which is guaranteed to win him access to the Baudelaire accounts, however the plan is foiled when he foolishly allows Sunny to drive. Fearing that he may not be a fit guardian, Mr. Poe removes the children from his care and delivers them to yet another new home.
I should probably not tell you why things don't work out for the Baudelaires in the home of their uncle, Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly), herpetologist. I should not tell you that their fate became entwined with the Incredibly Deadly Viper, or that they are once again sent to live with a distant relative, Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep) as it would very likely cause you a great deal of discomfort. I shouldn't even tell you the misfortune that befalls the normally joyful occasion of a wedding for fear of causing great emotional distress.
Just know that if you choose to view this film, you will be subjecting yourself to all these heart wrenching happenings and more.
The Putrific Production
This motion picture is filled with bad actors--that is to say, the bad acting of Olaf and his creepy cronies is portrayed in an excellent manner. There are moments that will make you laugh at his antics, although it will most likely be a front to keep you from crying at his wickedness. Likewise, the unfortunate children around whom the story is based are quite extraordinary in their tragic roles. Sunny, the toddler with extremely sharp teeth, says some of the most astute things.
The world in which the Baudelaire orphans find themselves is dark in both color and tone, as befits the sad tale of which they are a part. The scenery is like something from another world (think the games Myst or Riven) and the cinematography will effortlessly transport you into the lives of these misfortunates.
Parents should observe extreme caution when taking young children to see this film. They may find the evil eye of Count Olaf or the cliff-hanging house of Aunt Josephine to be too frightening for them. And you can fully expect to hear some shrieks during a scene stolen by a very long, very slithery co-star. Please take note that I also noticed exactly one instance of the word "dammit", not surprisingly spewed forth from the lips of that nasty Count Olaf.
My Abysmal Afterthoughts
For anyone who has followed the lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny in print, none of the events in this maleficient movie will shock you. There are a few omissions of plot points due to time constraints. Likewise, purists may be bothered by the re-ordering of some of the events in order to create a more cohesive presentation. But make no mistake, this film perfectly captures the spirit of the books by Lemony Snicket, making it truly, A Series of Unfortunate Events.
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