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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 33.75%
Average: 17.5%
Pretty Bad: 4.38%
Total Crap: 3.13%

11 reviews, 94 user ratings

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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
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by Erik Childress

"Better Than All Three Harry Potter Films"
5 stars

Family films expand the gauntlet each year from the fantastic to the pull-all-your-hair-out-with-a-socket-wrench-awful. For every Incredibles, Polar Express and Shrek 2, you get a Garfield, (gulp) Scooby-Doo 2 and (double gulp) Baby Geniuses 2. Everyone polishes up their praise for the Harry Potter films, stories with a lot of magic, but for my taste possess a weak affinity for red herringed Hardy Boys triviality that suck out a lot of the enchantment. Allow me to then steer the Harry Potter faithful to what will hopefully become the next big franchise. I may not have dabbled in either of the phenomenons on the page, but based on the movies alone, the first Lemony Snicket is superior to all three of the current Harry Potters.

This isnít Disney and it certainly isnít Pixar, so donít expect a happy little short film after that Paramount logo. Our narrator, Lemony Snicket (Jude Law), puts a stop to that right away and gives the audience a last chance to escape before settling into the dark tale of the Baudelaire children. In an introduction that may have influenced Wes Andersonís Tenenbaum family, the three orphaned children consist of Violet (Emily Browning, a young dead-ringer for Angelina Jolie), who can turn anything into an invention; Klaus (Liam Aiken), the bookworm who remembers everything he reads and little baby Sunny (Kara & Shelby Hoffman), a world-champion biter that would rival Richard Kielís Jaws from the Bond series.

After their parents are wiped out in a fire, they are sent to live with their closest living relative, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), beloved by his own admission. He has no interest in foster parenting, only the large fortune tied up with the young ones. Paperwork deems no access to the money until Violetís 18th birthday. Oh well, heíll just have to kill them. Lemony Snicket might best serve parents to heed more caution at this point, but itís impossible to take your eyes off of whatís to come.

Olafís schemes are outsmarted and the children whisked away from guardian-to-guardian, including the embracing snake surveyor, Uncle Monty (Billy Connolly) and the barely functional every-phobic, Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), who only finds comfort in words and language. Olaf is relentless though and shows up in an array of comical disguises that lend credence to the old belief of children being able to see what adults cannot.

Arson, snakes, hurricanes, murder, man-eating leeches and a plot development out of Jerry Lee Lewisí scrapbook notwithstanding, this is beyond perfect family entertainment. Nothing is dumbed down and the cute factor is left off the table and that shows a respect for the youngsters who will gobble up this gothic delight. There may be darkness inherent, but it arrives with such a cheeky sensibility that it would be downright puritanical for parents to get into any kind of a twist over what their childrenís thine eyes are seeing. Hell, I even jumped a foot once and most horror films can barely make me blink.

Jim Carrey has been belting both comedic and dramatic roles out of the park for some time, but Count Olaf is something special. Both menacing and over-the-top, Carrey finally has the Peter Sellers transformation that heís been looking for and audiences have been anticipating. His Italian and Crusty Seadog characterizations bring to mind not only Sellers but Alec Guinness, and the blend of physicality and awkward imposture fit Olaf like a glove and becomes a riotous, classic character to treasure. Itís magnificent to watch Carrey go nose-to-nose with Streep, who in turn amps up the quirkiness and makes a great foil for the children, perfectly played by Browning and Aiken.

Lemony Snicket is precisely the sort of film I would prescribe to my children and certainly will to my friendsí little ones as well. How wonderful is it not only to have a film that appeals towards the less sunny parts of the world, but allow the Baudelaires to recognize and then use their brains to work through it? Thereís a sense of accomplishment involved and the sight of Violetís signature hair tying is every bit as exciting as any hero getting that second wind you know is going to lead to success. Itís easy when you have the benefit of magic to solve all your problems. Itís a bit tougher when youíre forced to create a plan on the spot when trapped in a locked car on train tracks.

The moments of ingenuity have been cleverly fashioned by author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and director Brad Silberling matches the ideas with an unrestrained excitement that all ages will appreciate. Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam are obvious first choices for the material, But Silberling has obvious read his Grimm and Dahl and positively brings it to life. With three underappreciated gems already under his belt (Casper, City of Angels, Moonlight Mile) here is the film that should keep Silberling on the moviegoing radar. The Lemony books may not be as increasingly dense as the Harry Potter series, but the film version has managed to squeeze more fun and magic out of the first three Lemony Snicket stories than any one of that one whos name I shall not speak of anymore.

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originally posted: 12/17/04 16:10:26
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User Comments

3/08/08 peter i think this movie was pretty shit i think the baudelaire children should have died 1 stars
2/09/08 Samantha P i really liked this movie, i hope they make more, Jim Carrey was great as Count Olaf! 4 stars
11/03/07 Tiffany Losco Wierd but good. Jim Carreys funny 5 stars
7/14/07 Vincent Ebriega Not just beyond expectations, but beyond a usual juvenille production. 3.5/5. 4 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger emily browning is a great actress. cheers to liam as well 5 stars
11/11/06 Bill Hi all 5 stars
10/12/06 Xier Hernandez was really !!!!!! 5 stars
8/13/06 Andy Liam Aiken is the best part of the film 5 stars
7/20/06 David Cohen Jim Carrey's haminess ruined what should have been a classic 3 stars
6/28/06 joe koski good movie but the books are better 3 stars
6/19/06 chienne I'd never heard of LS, never read a book, but loved the film and have bought the books 5 stars
6/03/06 Elizabeth Wiley great 5 stars
5/27/06 Sarah its great! 5 stars
5/22/06 Diane P a little boring for me but my daughter loved it 3 stars
5/16/06 ororo manro It is agreat film and i would definatly watch it again,because of the unique acting skills. 1 stars
5/12/06 mr.seraph the only parts i found interested where those which included Jim Carrey 2 stars
4/04/06 John Aster Habig big fan of the books and Carrey but it was a bad adaptation, the kids actually saved it 3 stars
4/04/06 JRE the books are a lot more interresting, however Carrey did an amazing job 3 stars
3/30/06 Monique it was kool 5 stars
3/29/06 Amy cunninghamsy An exellent movie to watch 5 stars
12/12/05 Bad Critic Jim Carrey and Billy Connolly gave good performances, but it only covered three books! 3 stars
10/25/05 Stephanie The Book Is Way Better Should Have Been One Book One Movie Not Three Books In One Movie 2 stars
10/23/05 Deaf. I loved this movie! Jim Carrey is just so good at being evil. 5 stars
8/30/05 ES Started great but fizzled, they should have done a H. potter & stayed closer to the books 3 stars
8/23/05 Quigley the movie ruled. carrey was perfect. liam aiken was horrible. not to mention good CG. 5 stars
8/15/05 John Aster Habig big fan of the books and Carrey but it was a bad adaptation, the kids actually saved it 3 stars
8/08/05 reggie splendid!!! 5 stars
8/06/05 Zack Okay, it was better than "The Grinch, I'll admit, but.... 2 stars
8/01/05 Annie the kids did incredible, carrey was just creepy though 3 stars
7/23/05 summer Liam aiken sucks 1 stars
7/20/05 Sir Dude Loved it. Some of the best parts were deleted scenes, though. 5 stars
7/17/05 Pardue, sara Great Movie, The theme, imagination, and the fun is a enjoyable. 4 stars
7/03/05 Vic bull shit one of carey lesser funny movie...very tedious it dragged on 1 stars
7/03/05 anonymous It is a wonderful movie and Carrey, Browning and Aiken did phenominal! 5 stars
6/21/05 Honestly Movie good. Hated Jim; no one else available? Not looking forward to another with Jim. 3 stars
6/20/05 darick See it (especially if you haven't read the books) 4 stars
6/07/05 Darcy my son loved it 4 stars
6/05/05 Ubu the Ripper A great flick. Carrey is best when he is doing dark humor. 5 stars
5/28/05 JFK great photography and a great jim carrey performance 4 stars
5/27/05 Quigley Jim Carrey shows off his pure film magic in this. a hilarious movie. meryl streep rocked! 5 stars
5/17/05 E-FUNK I hate child-actors, but not a single complaint in this. Carrey fucking owns this. 4 stars
5/11/05 suzie suezetta good movie but not at all like the books 4 stars
5/07/05 ken good movie , very inteeresting 4 stars
5/03/05 Gary Jim Carrey was extraordinary in this 5 stars
5/01/05 Steve Newman seen this film twice - it gets better every time 4 stars
4/27/05 louis ok, but i expect more from jim, so i is good, but can be better 4 stars
4/27/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Beware of the spyglass. Its not in the books. It was added by the director. I smell sequal. 4 stars
4/19/05 Nicole Baugh I don't really care for Jim Carrey much but this movie was pretty good. 4 stars
4/18/05 Renita Long Fun! 4 stars
4/17/05 Lynnette Stevens We loved this movie! 5 stars
4/10/05 Jillyn It was funny and really cute, and suprisingly followed the books pretty well 5 stars
2/26/05 Mia Griggs Too gloomy - my 5 year old was scared and he likes Harry Potter 3 stars
2/25/05 Evangelica Schnapfenschalz Good, despite that Carrey (better as grinch) is monotonoutsly flat as unrelenting villain. 4 stars
2/16/05 Littlepurch Pleasing adaption of excelent bks.Glad they took enough poetic license to change some bits. 5 stars
2/06/05 Tom Benton Though fans of the books may be disappointed, the film will please the average moviegoer. 3 stars
2/05/05 Ann Klonicki This was a little over the top for young kids 3 stars
2/04/05 Mirella Rodriguez Great Movie, not for young kids 4 stars
2/04/05 craig varney great jim carrey can play anything 5 stars
2/04/05 Debbi Kalstein fun 4 stars
2/02/05 photocopy Buy posters from this movie at 5 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe I was expecting something else, I don't like children's movies:) Sorry 4 stars
1/27/05 Angelique Gloster I loved the movie it was the funniest movie I've ever seen! 5 stars
1/27/05 JesseL Nice dark comedy. Carey's aping can get wearisome. Biting baby makes it. 4 stars
1/19/05 ELI Had some stupid parts, but overall it was good! :) Good visuals 4 stars
1/18/05 Paterfam001 Not funny, not scary. I can't see kids getting excited about this movie. 2 stars
1/18/05 Shaira Liam is hott! 5 stars
1/14/05 Andi it totally was not a movie worth seeing again 1 stars
1/13/05 Robby Boyajian Great Movie but, doesn't follow the book to well 4 stars
1/12/05 Seth S. Wow... It was mandititory (for school) but it was WAY better than the books! ***** 5 stars
1/07/05 Angel C. It gave a interesting twist and a new look at the book series. It is a good film, the next 4 stars
1/06/05 Chuck Craig Carry is a little over the top, but acceptable. 4 stars
1/06/05 Mrk If you are a slight bit creative, you will enjoy this film. Very well acted. 5 stars
1/03/05 Lil Poor adaptation 2 stars
1/02/05 NoRefill Pretty bored during movie. Almost fell asleep twice. Just couldn't get into it. 3 stars
1/02/05 Karel cool! 4 stars
1/02/05 Maalstrom Always entertained when Carrey's on scene 4 stars
12/31/04 Jennifer I love the books and the movie was a wonderful adaptation! It was better than awesome! 5 stars
12/30/04 Worthy Slacker WOW! What a surprise. Expected a "formula" kid movie and got a "Top 10 film of the year". 5 stars
12/29/04 Max Trying too hard to be a tim burton film! 2 stars
12/29/04 Tom Ciorciari Like Charles Addams on acid, if that's possible 4 stars
12/28/04 aubree supeer duper 5 stars
12/24/04 Titus A bit rushed, and perhaps a bit too goofy for the story, but still great 4 stars
12/22/04 John Aster Habig Love all 11 books! The kids were well cast, but adults were ok with mediocre adaptation 4 stars
12/22/04 bobbi Excellent movie, a little shallow at the end but probably because of possible sequel 5 stars
12/21/04 Devon Awesome movie, worth your money 5 stars
12/20/04 michaelb14 great story, and great telling 5 stars
12/20/04 Daveman Impressive sets, sometimes funny but pretty pedestrian all in all. 2 stars
12/19/04 Naka HAH! A pleasent surprise. 5 stars
12/19/04 KingNeutron Liam Aiken was the only weak link. Very dark and gripping story. 4 stars
12/18/04 Mahone Awesome sets, but that's about it 3 stars
12/18/04 Littlepurch Some fantastic, some dragged, but everyone should try it and will enjoy some. 4 stars
12/18/04 Cat Love the Books. Love the Film 5 stars
12/17/04 Joe Cool 5 stars
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  17-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 26-Apr-2005



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