Saturday, 19 September 2020
Lemony Snicket
Sunday, 19 December 2004 16:47

Lemony Snicket served straight up with a twist

Dear Reader,
If you are interested in reviews with happy endings than you are better off reading some other review....

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not going to give this one a bad review! This dark and twisted little tale is brought to the big screen by Nickelodeon with great flair!

The Beaudelaire's are wealthy, attractive, highly intelligent children. Violet, the oldest, (Emily Browning) is the inventor. Claus (Liam Aiken) reads everything he can lay his hands on, and the adorable infant Sunny specializes in babbling and biting! When a mysterious fire burns down their home and kills their parents, the Beaudelaire children become the Beaudelaire orphans. They are brought to live with the loathsome, which (to coin a Snicket-y phrase) in this case means downright nasty, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). They soon find out Olaf wants nothing more than to get his spindly hands on their inheritance, and will go to any lengths necessary to do so!

The minute the opening credits started to role I knew I was in for a treat! Delivered with a witty narrative style borrowed right from the pages of the books, there is much here to keep the audience involved. Quirky and refreshing characters, sophisticated dialogue, and lots of slapstick humor are all part of the concoction. Plenty of cameos by the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Billy Connolly, and even Dustin Hoffman also add to the mix.

I was a little concerned at the casting of Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, but after seeing the film I can't imagine it any other way. Abandoning most of his usual bag of tricks, he embodies this despicable character perfectly. While makeup and costume render him almost unrecognizable, the transformation wouldn't be complete without the physicality Carrey brings to the role. Whether slinking around as Olaf, skulking in scientist garb, or sweet talking as a Newfy-inspired fisherman, Carrey is at his best in this movie.

I thought that the idea of combining the first three novels was probably a smart move due to the fact that they are short little books, unlike the massive "Harry Potter" editions. I've read the first of the Snickett books, and although there were some departures, I felt the adaptation was good. On a serious side, there really is a scary message here about child abuse going unnoticed. It can be frustrating to see the situations these kids are put in because the adults in their lives are too simple and ignorant to listen.

As a child, the movies that I couldn't get enough of were usually the ones with a darker subtext. At my seventh birthday party we watched "The Dark Crystal" which I loved, but which gave everyone else nightmares! I still love those films, which is why I am really enjoying the new wave of fantasy films hitting the market these days. There is enough "reality" in our lives. It's about time we start using our imaginations again, and encouraging children to do the same.

For anyone who enjoyed "Lemony Snicket", I would highly recommend:
The "Harry Potter" series of books and movies, of course!
"Labyrinth" and "The Neverending Story" ; some old favorites available on DVD.
And for adults only the artwork and books of artist Edward Gorey.