Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Somewhat Unfortunate Movie

Last week, I went to see the A Series of Unfortunate Events movie. Having written about it earlier, I owe both my readers at least a brief summary of my impressions. The executive summary: not as good as I'd hoped, but better than I feared.

The story follows the Baudelaire orphans as they discover their parents have died, and are shuttled off to a series of different (but all, sadly, incompetent) guardians. The children learn to trust each other and work together, but also learn that sometimes, bad things happen to good people. There is no happy-ever-after ending, and the characters endure silly and heart-wrenching adventures along the way.

Nothing was particularly bad-- the characters were, on the whole, pretty good (more on that below), and the story was not bad, just too cartoony for my taste. There were some truly fantastic moments such as where Klaus Baudelaire (Liam Aiken) expresses his anger at his parents for dying-- something I don't recall having seen in a children's movie before, and a feeling that anybody who's ever lost someone they cared deeply about knows all too well. The stark honesty of that moment, and the raw feeling of Violet's (Emily Browning) emotional discovery in the wreckage of their family home at the end of the movie redeem it from the "kiddie movie" status it might have otherwise enjoyed (and deserved).

Jim Carrey's Count Olaf was overblown and overdramatic, but his character is a bad actor, so it fits, if you think about it. The problem is that you do have to think about it, which kinda defeats the purpose. But then again, were he not in the film, it quite possibly would not have been made. Thankfully, most of the time his histrionics are appropriate. He was, however, not the star. The stars were the Hoffman twins, who played the baby Sunny, Liam Aiken, who played Klaus, and especially Emily Browning, who is already an actress to look out for, and will hopefully go on to even better things. Jude Law's narration (as the "author", Lemony Snicket) was spot-on.

Is this, like, the best movie EVAR? No. Do I hate myself for watching it? Thankfully, no. But I kinda wish I'd waited until it came out on DVD.

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