Movie Review: Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events

So I’ve been very actively reading the books from a Series of Unfortunate Events and I found the movie while I was in my local library, searching for my next mystery reading assignment.

“Dear Viewer, If you enjoy movies filled with singing rabbits, exploding spaceships, or cheerleaders, you are holding the wrong DVD entirely. This movie is extremely alarming, an expression which here means ‘a thrilling misadventure involving three ingenious orphans and a villainous actor named Count Olaf who wants their enormous fortune.’ It includes a suspicious fire, delicious pasta, Jim Carrey, poorly behaved leeches, an incredibly deadly viper, Meryl Streep, and the voice of an imposter named Jude Law. The only things that could make such a spectacle more upsetting are special features, such as commentary by me or outtakes involving nervous laughter. I am bound to continue my research into the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, but you are free to seek lighter fare, like bleu cheese fondue. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket.”

It’s interesting to me that the back of the DVD reads almost exactly like the back of the books and it was interesting that the producers obviously cared enough to stay as close to the tone of the books as possible. A lot of movies which share the same title as books don’t care as much about being extremely close to the source material. The movie is even broken up several times to clearly show the narrator at a typewriter.

The movie starts out with one of the absolute creepiest animated short I’ve seen in a while. Little dancing elves in the forest and happy chirping birds and I sat on the couch rather stunned for several solid minutes, feeling my intelligence lower and lower with every passing chirp. I wondered if the library had put the right movie into the DVD case and whether I had somehow managed to get another preview instead of pressing play on the movie. But as the creepy elves and their music continued, they were eventually properly replaced by a dismal atmosphere, the three Baudelaire orphans, and the nefarious Count Olaf.

Whew. I was worried there for a second. But I can still never get those brain cells back.

Meanwhile, this book covers the events of the Bad Beginning, the Reptile Room, and the Wide Window, which are the first three books in a Series of Unfortunate Events. The timeline was a little compressed from the one in the books, but, to be fair, the timeline in the books isn’t exactly clear either, as it’s never really mentioned how much time truly passes during the books. Since I haven’t finished the books yet, I don’t know if the underlying option about a secret society the Baudelaire parents were founders or leaders of and how all the people the Baudelaire children wind up staying with were members of that society or not. But I am thinking from what I’ve read in the books so far that the fire that destroyed the Baudelaire mansion and killed their parents was set on purpose, likely by Count Olaf.

What do I think about the movie itself? Hm. I think that’s a bit harder since I don’t really think this movie would stand alone as well if I hadn’t read, been reading, and wanted to continue reading the books. As with many things, when books and movies share a title, I’m often of the opinion that whichever came first is often better. While the inventions in the movie were very creative and the situations were definitely similar to how the books happened, they were not the same. I think in this case, that’s probably a good thing because it might encourage people to read the books. I am a huge proponent of people reading more books, especially these books. So I will rate this movie as a high two on my rating scale because I like the books a lot better, but the movie is okay. It’s not likely that I will watch the movie again and I really like the books.

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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