Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2004) – By Mark Hite

When I first rented Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting in to. However the gothic images and all star cast perked my interest. Now that I have watched it, I myself am feeling a bit “unfortunate” shall we say.

The movie is based on a popular book series which contains several novels. I had not read any of these tales but I figured I would dive head first into this pool of melodrama. The story is about the ill fated Baudelaire children who lose their parents in a fire. Violet (Emily Browning) is the oldest of the group and has a talent in inventions. She is accompanied by Klaus (Liam Aiken) who specializes in knowledge from books and little Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) who speaks in baby gibberish while packing a mean bite.

When the children are orphaned, they are sent to live with their distant relative Count Olaf. The deplorable Count is played in traditional over the top manner by Jim Carey. The children are treated horribly and when Olaf officially become’s their guardian, he attempts to kill them off so he may inherit their family fortune. The children find a way around him and are sent to live with other relatives. However, wherever the children go, Count Olaf is not far behind in disguise.

The movie itself follows dark themes of death and loss. This is accompanied rather well by the bleak set design, props, and costumes. Carey shines as the sinister Olaf making you think he jumped out of a comic strip and on to the screen. He successfully provides the much needed laughter in an otherwise dismal film. The flick also features several big celebrities in minor roles such as Dustin Hoffman, Cedric The Entertainer, and even the Aflac Duck.

Perhaps where the movie lacks most in is plot development. I compare this film to watching Wile E. Coyote chasing the Roadrunner. It is the same old scenario; bad guy comes up with an elaborate plan to kill his enemy but is foiled last minute. I imagine younger folk, who this film is generally marketed for, would find this entertaining. However for movie fan codgers like yours truly, I found it awfully repetitive. At the end we are left with little clue about the children’s parents and what they were part of before they perished. I imagine this will be covered in future movies but I doubt I will be tuning in.

There is no doubt this film will shall go down as a cult favorite. People who like artistic films and gothic images will like the it’s design. Myself, I prefer a decent plot line and solid character development to go along with images. Without these elements you might as well look at a painting for 2 hours.

In today’s world, children’s stories are often more popular with adults than the little ones. Matter of fact, a few years back I started watching the first Harry Potter movie as a goof. Wouldn’t you know it, the next day I was out at the store buying all the books. I was truly hoping Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate events would turn me into a fan. I knew this flick wasn’t going to be anything like Harry Potter but was hoping for something to wow me at that level. Very much like the story’s events, I was most “unfortunate” in my search to be wowed.