Last year, I entered my kitchen, looking for a snack. Sitting on the counter atop a pile of letters and bills laid a small, hardbound book. I tilted my head and looked at the cover. The cover art entertained me, as did the 'ratty' state of the pages, and the cynical, woeful narration on the back. The book was Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, Book one: The Bad Beginning.
At the time, I was more then half way through my copy of Helter Skelter: The true story of the Charles Manson murders, and shortly before picking up Helter Skelter, threw "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" across a room in boredom after 3 chapters, but for some reason, something about Lemony Snicket's work drew me in.
Last week, I watched the movie.
And that is what I am here to review.
Oddly, I don't have much to say. It was a faithful adaptation of the books. The children seemed amusingly outside-in throughout this movie. They're trapped in this world full of colourful, idiosyncratic characters, and have this aura of "oh HELL No! Are we the only sane humans in this place?!" It seemed, to me, different from the books, but suitable. After all, too much outlandishness could lose an audience, if said audience can't relate to something somewhere.
I had some issues with Sunny though. She was far ruder in the movies than in the book. Both movie and book were written for children, and clearly the books are selling well, so why give Sunny some 'tude? What for? To make kids laugh? They were laughing before the movie. I didn't find it necessary is all.
Another thing that truly got to me was (And I know I'm going to be tarred and feathered for this) Jim Carry's performance. He did a good job, I don't disagree. However, when I watch a Jim Carry movie, I only see Jim Carry doing the same thing Jim Carry has always done. In nearly every movie I have seen him in, he is doing the same shit over and over again. (Save for Simon Birch, and apparently the Majestic, which I have not seen.) Even in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind had a Jim Carry psychical comedy skit. You know whom I would have rather seen in that roll? Matt Frewer.
Jim Carry portrayed a goofy, handlebar mustache twirling Snidely Whiplash type character, while I found Count Olaf to be more sinister and vile in the book. I was glad they kept the whole backhanding Klaus scene in the movie, yet in the book, the 'angry bruise' on Klaus's cheek was something Mr. Snicket never allowed you to forget about.
When Movie-Olaf tried to wed Violet, he was just greedy, trying to get at the Baudelaire wealth. I had no doubt Book-Olaf would…er….try to indulge in every wedded bliss…. if you catch my meaning?
But Jim Carry's a parent, who wants to protect his kids, (*NOTE: While typing this review up, I meant to type the word "Kids", yet my fingers were on the wrong keys and I ended up typing "juice". Looking at the keys, it is perfectly conceivable to actually make such an error. Look at your keyboards.) So he softened up Olaf. Bullshit! There are copious amounts of horror and violence in Harry Potter, and they're pretty true to the books, from what I hear. How about Dark Crystal? Labyrinth, Never Ending Story, Short Circuit, Spiderman, X-Men, Batman… These stories have withstood the tests of time, and are nice and chalk full of violence, scary themes and/or bloodshed. Fine. You want to protect your kids; I applaud you, but don't change a core villain just to make your conscious clean. You have a moral dilemma over a character then don't take it. You've enough cash, Mr. Carry, leave the character as is.
Cedric the Entertainer's character was mightily un-needed.
By the third quarter of the movie, I began to zone out. It was committing the sin of the rest of the books: Monotony.
You see, after Book 1, my nephew and I pooled some cash and bought all the books (Only 9 of them back then). I picked up the Reptile Room book, but fell horribly bored with it a few chapters in, because it was the same exact book, all over again. I just read book 1, I don't want to re-read it! You just did a Count Olaf plot Mr. Snicket! Do something else!!
So, long story short: I never read any of the other books, because I hate redundancy. And the movie, like the books, was just that, Aunt Josephine had some good lines, but was dull as fuck.
All in all, it was a pretty faithful rendition, with an interesting illusion, occasionally broken by mediocre actors and annoyingly sarcastic subtitles.
I REALLY wish Matt Frewer were in it…