Please, do not read this. What follows is not a loving tribute to an entertaining cinematic experience. Rather, consider this a warning. A cautionary message in hopes that this film we never be seen again. This sequence of calamitous happenings depicts severe child abuse, reckless endangerment of minors, and a hopeless attempt to find some semblance of even a pseudo-happiness in a horrific nether realm of heinous familial tragedy! But that Jim Carrey… hilarious!! To be fair, everyone is their own brand of effective in this tumultuous tale. Streep, Hoffman, Law, Browning, the Entertainer. Class acts all around, which is why it is so tragic that they be sentenced to depict such a… well, you’ll see. If you dare, abandon all optimistic expectation. Deep breaths, all together, and bear witness to this deeply disturbing and darkly comic ordination. Lemony, for all his ominous foreboding, may have been right after all…
If you must, meet Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. An inventor, a reader, and a biter. The terribly unlucky, probably doomed, Baudelaire orphans. After a mysterious fire kills both their parents, the siblings are shipped about between various guardians with varying enigmatic personalities. Uncle Monty, lover of reptiles, keeper of a secret. Odd, but lovable. Aunt Josephine, sweet in her way but afraid of everything. Rightfully so, this is a horrid reality in which these poor children live! Then, of course, the worst of the worst. The deplorable, the objectively awful, Count Olaf. Or is it Mr. Stephano? Captain Sham, perhaps? No matter who he is or pretends to be, one thing is certain: he wants the Baudelaire fortune and will do anything to obtain it. Moments after legally adopting the children, Olaf unleashes a homicidal scheme to shuffle the youngsters form this mortal coil. Dark? Pitch black seems more apt in describing this piece of celluloid. Dammit if I didn’t enjoy every frame.
Yet another in a long list of novels that I have not had a chance to read yet, Lemony Snicket pens thirteen books in the literary Series of Unfortunate Events, and this adaptation covers the first three. Brimming with deception, greed, and abhorrent nefariosity, the gimmick works wonders. Perhaps the movie did not receive quite the love that the novels did, which means no sequels, which is another sort of unfortunate. Gothic and absurd in fantastic and stylized ways, the timeless yet somehow anachronistic world that has been brought to life takes the child entertainment genre and twists it until it’s bruised. But where does the story go once the film ends? Do the children ever unravel the conundrum behind their parents’ incendiary demise? Will I ever have the money to purchase the complete set so I can find out for myself?!? The endeavor of the struggling writer… an unfortunate event in and of itself.
directed by Brad Silberling
written by Robert Gordon
favorite lines: "Sanctuary… is a word which here means a small, safe place in a troubling world. Like an oasis in a vast desert or an island in a stormy sea." Lemony Snicket