Lemony Snicketís A Series of Unfortunate Events (6/10)

by Tony Medley

As I was reading the Production Notes I was preparing a terribly amusing and effective review, written in the style of Mr. Snicket (real name Daniel Handler). I was laughing as I was reading my copy in my mindís eye. Brilliant!

Alas, Mr. Snicket did not write the script for this film. Instead it was written by Robert Gordon, who wrote Men in Black II, one of 2002ís worst films. To make matters worse, he has a producer credit on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, another stinker earlier this year.

ĎTis pity, too, because Jim Carrey is delightful as the evil Captain Olaf. Even Meryl Streep (Aunt Josephine), who has been a long time resident on my list of least favorite actresses, isnít that bad. In fact, the entire cast is very good, especially the three Beaudelaire children, Klaus (Liam Aiken), Violet (Emily Browning), and the infant Sunny (played by both Kara and Shelby Hoffman). Timothy Spall (Poe) is a dead ringer for mid-20th Century stuffy character actor Robert Morley, and just as prickly. Jude Law is here, too, as the voice of Lemony Snicket. Was there a movie made in 2004 in which Law did not play a role? Surely heís been in every film Iíve seen for the past several months. Or am I just in the middle of a terrible nightmare? I had had enough of him before he started showing up in every film I saw, but Law does a very good job narrating the film.

In a nutshell the Baudelaire childrenís parents are burned up in a fire that destroys their house and they are placed with Olaf as their guardian, who wants their money. The children are wonderfully wise and all the adults are either bad or stupid. Olaf keeps showing up in disguises that the children see through but that fool Poe, who is the government official responsible for placing the children.

Itís a dark tale and maybe children will like it. I was disappointed.

However, it raises a disturbing question in my mind, to wit: why are todayís childrenís films full of bad adults? There is only one adult in this film with a redeeming quality, Uncle Monty (Bill Connolly), and heís quickly dispatched. But heís a weirdo, too. What is the message that is delivered to young, impressionable children seeing these films? That there is no adult to be trusted? Movies are more than entertainment, especially childrenís movies. I object to movies that can result in impressionable children coming out with the wrong impression. Where are the childrenís movies with positive morals and values?

Worse, I never did get the answer to the question the children kept asking about their parentsí death in the fire that burned down their house. So, for me, this was a mystery without a resolution. I obviously need a child to explain it to me.

December 16, 2004

The End