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Lemony Snicket's (2004)
"Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events" brings to life Handler's contemporary yet acutely Victorian influenced novels made famous in recent years. This Gothic Fantasy brings us the trials and tribulations of the Baudelaire orphans Klaus, Violet, and Sunny, after their mother and father were killed in a devastating fire that burned down the family estate, leaving them entrusted to their greedy relative, the nefarious Count Olaf.
Directed by: Brad Siberling. Written by: Daniels Handler (books) and Robert Gordon (screenplay).
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Family.
Tagline: Sometimes a series of unfortunate events are just the beginning steps of an adventure.
Rated: PG for thematic elements, scary situations and brief language.
Meet the Baudelaire children: Violet (Emily Browning) the inventor, Klaus (Liam Aiken) the bookworm, and Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) the biter. Happily the three spend their days reading, inventing, reading, and biting away in the many nooks and crannies of the massive Baudelaire estate. Precarious as they are the children are mainly isolated from the external world by the security of their homestead and indoor interests. But Lemony Snicket (Jude Law), the intrusive narrator of the tale (think Anthony Trollope's narrator in the Victorian novel Barchester Towers), quickly forewarns audiences to expect the worst; that their fairy world existence is about to be smashed by the onslaught of tragedy, mystery, and mayhem.
Thus the beginning of the Baudelaire dark ages begins when, suddenly, a mysterious fire burns down the Baudelaire estate, killing the children's parents in the process. With no book, cloth, or nuance surviving the deadly arson, the Baudelaire children are quickly turned into the Baudelaire orphans and entrusted to the 'good judgment' of banker and executer of the Baudelaire will, Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall).
Determined to find the Baudelaire's a proper guardian, Mr. Poe entrusts the children to the protection of the ambivalent Count Olaf (Jim Carrey) and his gothic abode. Quickly the children learn that the only interest Count Olaf has for the Baudelaires is not their security but rather their very large fortune. By and by Olaf begins to show his contempt for the Baudelaire children, enslaving them to domestic duties and other personal whims the villainous rascal can conjure. Eventually Olaf goes so far as to try to kill the children by locking them in his car conveniently stopped on train tracks. Of course when Mr. Poe arrives on scene he quickly informs Olaf that the only way he can ever inherit the Baudelaire fortune is so long as the children remain alive. Mr. Poe then takes the children out of Count Olaf's care, still not comprehending Olaf's true intentions, and then takes the children to their beloved Uncle Monty's (Billy Connolly).
But Olaf soon smells out his fortune and arrives at Uncle Monty's in the guise of a replacement scientist who uses his wiles to kill Uncle Monty once the kids are at bay. Once again the children are nearly placed in the custody of Olaf until he reveals his murderous crime and the children are whisked to safety at the precarious cliff house owned by their hypochondriac Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep). Meanwhil Olaf goes missing. But once in the refuge of Josephine's far-off coastal haven, the Baudelaires, besides not being able to touch anything, turn on the heat, cook, etc. for fear they might die, do their best to remain content and feel safe among the high strung agoraphobic Aunt Josephine. Intent on taking her outside, they convince Aunt Josephine to take a stroll whereby they once again encounter Olaf in the guise of a one-legged sea captain. Flattering his way into Josephine's lonely heart Count Olaf whisks her away to her home whilst the children find food for dinner. But returning home they find Josephine missing and Klaus uses his bookworm powers to decode the encrypted message left behind.
Traveling through leech-infested waters of a deadly lake, the Buadelaires rescue Aunt Josephine from Curdled Cave only to watch her drift out to her death upon the arrival of the cunning Olaf. Ironically, Mr. Poe shows up at the same time and, believing Olaf to have saved the Baudelaire's lives, reinstates guardianship to the contemptible villain. Still intent on inheriting the Baudelaire fortune Olaf discovers that if he marries Violet he gains direct access to the lucrative treasure. Staging a play with a real justice so that he can legitmately marry Violet via the pretense of a screenplay, Olaf begins to set his deceptive trick in motion, enlisting the help of Justice Strauss (Catherin O'Hara).
Meanwhile Klaus has set about trying to uncover the mystery behind the Baudelaire fortune which somehow seems connected to their parents' death. Ironically all of the Baudelaire's seem to have died in fires. In a daredevil attempt to save his baby sister Sunny from certain death Klaus accidentally stumbles upon the answer to the arson mysteries. The Baudelaire's have been being hunted down by the nefarious Olaf in his attempt to snatch the family fortune one Baudelaire family at a time. Using his eye-shaped magnifying glass, Olaf would redirect the sunlight onto the Baudelaire estates, igniting the property and its inhabitants in flames.
Klaus quickly rescues Sunny, saves Violet from her almost marriage to Olaf, and exposes Olaf's villainous scheme to save the day! But, as any villain will do, Olaf flees the scene, leaving the kids once again to start over in the back seat of Mr. Poe's car, justice yet served. But this time it seems, a long lost letter from their parents will lift the chidlrens spirits and teach them that "a series of unfortunate events may really just be the first steps to an adventure". And so the Baudelaire's would live together, loving and protecting one another their whole lives thereafter. The end.
"Lemony Snicket's" is a delightful visual rendition of the Handler novels. With Tim Burton panache, Siberling brings to life the Gothic meets Victorian fantasy tale of the Baudelaire children. The uncanny repetitions, the absurdities, the profoundly unique characterization all manifest themselves in the decorous stage sets and the wonderful performances of an A-list cast, including a cameo from Dustin Hoffman. From Jim Carrey's many performances of multiple caricature villain stock types to Meryl Streep's performance as the agoraphobic hypochondriac, each character is so uniquely colorful and distinct that in the time span of one film the world gets a look at its many eccentric character types of dark comedy.
"Lemony Snicket's" is a wonderful juxtaposition of "Nightmare before Christmas" meets "Big Fish" in a delightfully dark comedy that exuberates witty one-liners and brilliantly subtle humor. From elaborate sets to detailed color schemes and lighting, to the intrusive narrator (very parallel to the portrayal of the narrator in Moulin Rouge), Siberling brings to life one of childhood's most beloved fairytales and makes it palatable enough for even adult audiences. The film will make you laugh, snicker, chide, and even shriek as Jim Carrey prances around the screen in his nefarious getup as the contemptible yet mesmerizing Count Olaf.
This episodic fairytale takes you from one adventure to the next in a visual splendor that will captivate the imagination. Winning the Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup as well as being nominated for 3 other Oscar's and winning several other critical film awards, "Lemony Snicket's" is a delight for the whole family any day of the year! \
Jim Carrey plays Count Olaf, the contemptible sinister greedy shape shifting villain intent on inheriting the Baudelaire fortune.
Liam Aiken plays Klaus, the Baudelaire bookworm.
Emily Browning plays Violet, the Baudelaire inventor.
Kara Hoffman and Shelby Hoffman play Sunny, the Baudelaire biter.
Jude Law plays Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the Baudelaire adventures.
Timothy Spall plays Mr. Poe, the banker and executer of the Baudelaire will.
Meryl Streep plays Aunt Josephine, the Baudelaire's agoraphobic hypochondriac aunt.
Billy Connolly plays Uncle Monty, the Baudelaire's beloved snake-loving uncle.