Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a short fantasy, adventure, comedy based off a book series by the same name which I have not read… Be right back…
Okay, never mind. It’s 13 books long–maybe some other time.
Fair warning, this review is SPOILER HEAVY.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (or LSASoUE though perhaps that isn’t much better) stands out from many other movies I have seen recently because it’s so crazy different. Right off the bat it breaks the fourth wall when the narrator tells you it might be a good idea to stop watching this movie and go into a theater down the hall which is showing a happier film.
Why is the film so sad? Because the three main characters are orphaned and then chased by their greedy uncle (if he really is their uncle) who is after their inheritance.
Throughout the movie there are several instances which are reminiscent of movies like Princess Bride or even the Wizard People, Dear Reader riff track. These breaks in the story are well timed to help create suspense and provide humor and overall the result is not distracting, which is always a risk.
Plot wise the film is very fast and everyone fits into their predefined roles without much fuss. You have an inventor, a reader, a biter, a villain, and an incompetent social worker. Yet the story necessitates these absurdities because nothing else would lead to such bizarre and unlikely events.
The cast of the film was very young, the oldest of the children was 15 or 16 years old during production and the baby was played by twin sisters, presumably because of how difficult it is to work with babies. Yet they did pull it off well.
Surprisingly, most of the visual effects held up, even 10 years out, and this film had a lot of them. Certainly the more detailed scenes with objects are flying at the camera are beginning to show their age but for each shot that looked a little rough there were numerous that still looked great.
Stylistically the cinematography was very fun and the soundtrack was quite enjoyable. The storytelling was refreshing but not all together remarkable, the plot appropriately predictable.
Would I recommend this movie?
I guess I don’t really know. It was an interesting if not contrived story, the characters were flat but mostly relatable. The ending wanted to be sentimental and inspiring, but you’re standing in the ashen remains of their old house, the place where their parents died, and the children aren’t crying, they are ready to move on… yet with all the chaos there has hardly been any time to grieve or come to terms with their loss. It all happens to quickly for the audience to care, but perhaps maybe that is the goal.
If you’re looking for a clean family film this is one everyone can enjoy, but I don’t think I’d put it on a must see list.