From The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
The unfortunate Baudelaire children start off on their series of unfortunate events.
What a dull and dreary name for this movie. Let’s see if we can improve on it…how about:
- Lemony Snicket Light: only a quarter of the intelligence of our usual books
- Lemony Snicket: the Good Parts version, except we leave out a lot of the good parts
- Lemony Snicket Presents: Jim Carrey Theatre
- Lemony Snicket says: I made a bundle selling these books and even more money from the movie rights, nyah nyah nyah
- Lemony Snicket: a Series of Unfortunate Movies
Well, you get the idea. We chez Otter were not impressed.
Now, that’s not to say that there weren’t a few good things about this movie: the end titles and the easter egg on the dvd were excellent, and the actors playing the three children, Klaus, Violet and Sunny, were also excellent. They did a wonderful job with Sunny’s indecipherable comments, showing them as subtitles. Some of the sets and locations were perfect…and of course it was narrated by Serious Honey Jude Law (woof!) so that didn’t hurt at all.
(You knew this was coming, didn’t you)
(Yes, you did. You know the Otter)
(All right. Here we go!)
THEY GOT IT WRONG. I know many people were happy with this movie and thought it was wonderful…but it’s not. This movie takes the more sensational aspects of the books (and those are myriad), throws in some good special effects (oh, and of course Jim Carrey is, as usual, refined, restrained and a model of decorum) and mixes it all together higgledy-piggledy (a word which here means badly) and presents it as genuine Lemony Snicket.
Nope. Sorry. Wrong.
These books are (while extremely amusing) unrelievedly depressing, awful, scary, and, well, unfortunate. Count Olaf is really, really evil, and while he is stupid, he has no cuteness to him at all…which Carrey is evidently unable to comprehend. Sunny’s comments in the movie were cute and funny…but she was not cute in the books, she was serious, even though many of the things she said were amusing in context. This movie takes the best part of the books, the thing the kids (and adults who read it) like most, the sheer unrelieved depressing march of one bad event after another happening to these children with no relief in sight…and sanitizes their lives, makes them amusing, makes viewers laugh at them instead of sharing their misery.
More tiny picky details: the children hardly get to do anything, because in order to fit three books into one short movie, most of the details have been cut. Most of the language has also been dumbed-down, although a few definitions and narrational warnings were left in…but not enough. Olaf’s friends are also not scary, they seem more ludicrous. Oh, I could go on, but why? this is just not worth my time.
If you must see it for the f/x, do it, but don’t pay any more money than you have to…and for God’s sake, read the books, they’re repetitive, but much better than this.