FBMR - A Series of Unfortunate Events
Film-Buff Movies Reviews


LEMONY SNICKETíS A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2004) **

There wasnít anything that dreadfully awful about this film. It was all right, but it wasnít anything special or spectacular either. One of its pitfalls for me was the advertising campaign. The picture didnít live up to the hype. My expectations were high and they were not met. I was under the impression that this film would be just as the title says, ďa series of unfortunate eventsĒ that would seem to have happened by chance and bad luck, but in the end we would discover their link and all the pieces of an intricate puzzle would be revealed. And to its credit, thatís what it was Ö to a degree, yet when the events finally did connect (which anyone over the age of 6 should have been able to do half way through the film), it was all very anti-climactic. It wasnít an intricate puzzle; there was no great revelation, no gasps of surprise. It just was. I do understand that this was based on a series of novels written for young readers, so maybe I shouldnít have been hoping for a younger version of MAGNOLIA, or THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Yet even the movie HOLES had a better puzzle to be solved. And maybe I would have liked it more had I read or been familiar with these books.

After their parents are killed in a mysterious fire that burns their home down, the Baudelaire children are given over to their eccentric, mean, and greedy Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). He isnít interested in the children, but in the great fortune that has been left to them by their parents, thinking that being their legal guardian he will have access to this great wealth. He is wrong. It would only be in their death that he would be entitled to this fortune. He plots to kill them, by accident, of course, but these children are bright and have some extraordinary talents. The eldest, Violet (Emily Browning), is a great inventor. The middle child, Klaus (Liam Aiken) can read and recall with great accuracy every book he has read. The youngest, Sunny (Kara & Shelby Hoffman) has a strong set of jaws and likes to bite things. The three of them, under Violetís direction, use their talents to foil Olafís plots. The children get moved from guardian to guardian, but are also followed by Olaf, in various states of disguise, still trying to get to the childrenís inheritance.

Jim Carrey, unfortunately, often seems to be playing himself. It was funny and fresh ten years ago, but now we know his shtick and I find it hard to see him as anyone but Jim Carrey. There are some exceptions (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, MAN ON THE MOON). Meryl Streep plays Aunt Josephine, a caricature: a strange, and paranoid woman who suffers from pantophobia (the fear of everything). She does it well, mind you, but caricatures are often easier to portray than a complex, three-dimensional character. The kids are very good, with the Hoffman girls stealing almost every scene theyíre in.

There are some other redeeming aspects, but none are strong enough to save the film. The childrenís escapes seem a little far-fetched (I do realize that this is a fantasy film), and that can be amusing because they seem almost implausible. A standout scene is towards the end of the film when the children return to Aunt Josephineís only to find her gone, and then all her previous fears materialize.

Itís not a bad movie; it just doesnít have that little extra something to put it over the top to be a great film. Although, Iím sure I enjoyed this much more than any movie called THE LITTLEST ELF.