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"Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events"

Directed by Brad Silberling.
Written by Robert Gordon.  Based on some "books" by Daniel Handler.
Starring Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken, Emily Browning and Meryl Streep.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  12/30/04


I have to see a couple of kid flicks each year, right?  I thought that "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" would be a good one because it isn't too kiddy-like...riiiiight.

Based on three different books, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" follows the Baudelaire kids--Violet (Emily Browning), a 14-year-old inventor, Klaus (Liam Aiken), a 12-year-old bookworm and Sunny (played by twins Kara and Shelby Hoffman), an infant that has a tendency to babble and bite things.  The kids start the film by losing their parents to a vicious inferno at their downtown Boston estate; newly orphaned, they are sent to live with their "closest" uncle, Olaf (Jim Carrey), who intends to make off with the kids' inheritance at his earliest opportunity.  Along the way, the kids meet a host of offbeat characters, including their Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), who may be able to help the kids get out of their living arrangement with the evil Olaf...if the kids can survive Olaf's constant attempts on their lives.

As an adult, it was a nice change to see a kid flick with some edge to it, and "A Series of Unfortunate Events" delivers on a slightly-demented nature to its storytelling.  It's a little too scary for very young children, but the 6-and-up types shouldn't be too frightened by what was going on.  Carrey is great as Olaf--if anything to provide good comic relief in-between acts of sheer evil--and the production design really does get you into the world of the story, from the sets to the music, to the costumes of the shady Olaf and his associates.

But even though I had a little nap and there were little kids all over the place in my theater, I was actually kind of bored at times watching this movie.  It's too long, for one--a common problem in 2004 exemplified once again by this film's tendency to let shots run too long and a supposed mystery behind what happened to the Baudelaire kids' parents take up valuable time.  I also thought the film didn't do enough to further the Olaf agenda; in one early scene, he's literally trying to get the kids killed, but then instead of trying to kill them again, he tries to buddy up with the kids' new guardians.  Although it would have been a little twisted, I think it would have been fun to watch the kids use their wits to avoid Olaf's nefarious plans, rather than watching the kids complain to anyone in earshot that Olaf was a bad man.

I'm not really sure what to say about "A Series of Unfortunate Events"--it was just kind of, you know, there.  Nothing too special, nothing too bad to say about it, and even though I just walked home from the movie theater an hour or two ago, I'm already forgetting what happened during the run time.  Blah.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09