By Christian DiMartino
I started watching Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events this morning, and I must say I’m pretty hooked. Yes, the graphics and CGI look extremely fake, but as long time fan of Lemony Snicket’s (real name Daniel Handler) novels, I will say that the stuff that matters is done right. It’s funny. It’s faithful to the source material, and Neil Patrick Harris is totally game in the role of Count Olaf. He has wonderful comic timing, and a gift with deadpan. In other words, he really knows how to deliver such stupidity.
Mind you, I’m only two episodes in, but I doubt they’re going to blow it. It’s great source material, and I’m glad it’s finally getting new life. But yet as enjoyable as it may be, while I was watching it, there was one thing I just couldn’t get off of my mind: the movie.
You see, if you know me, you’ll know that I have something of an obvious sweet tooth when it comes to the work of Jim Carrey. So I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Carrey isn’t the only reason why I’ve seen this film 8,000 times and know it like the back of my ass. But he’s a good part of it.
Sure, there’s things you could nitpick. Carrey may be overdoing it. But he’s overdoing it fabulously. As when he played The Grinch, I watch A Series of Unfortunate Events and I ask myself: could anyone do this better? Plus, if you were playing a man named Count Olaf, wouldn’t you overdo it a tad?
Emily Browning and Liam Aiken play Violet and Klaus Bauldelaire, who along with their infant sister Sunny, go to live with their closest (not in relation, but distance) relative after their parents perish in a fire that destroyed their home. Everyone seems to take this tragedy somewhat well, which is the only area where I would personally point fault: the tone. I love the comedic tone, yes. But if this were indeed a real situation, would the people involved really react this way?
Anyways, said relative is Count Olaf (Carrey) an actor who you know right from the get-go is up to no good. Because he makes his evil known. He forces them to do chores, cook for him… he even strikes Klaus in the face. But most of all, he really just wants to steal their fortune, and tells them such a plan. For such an evil genius, he’s not the biggest genius.
But circumstances (different than the novel) send the Bauldelaire’s to different guardians, such as Uncle Monty (Billy Connelly), a reptile expert, and Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), who… well, she’s terrified of realtors, and well… everything. Just when they find solace in both homes, the reappearance of Olaf (in disguise) keeps shattering such solace.
It’s been 13 years since this film’s release, and I’d always hoped they’d make a sequel. They didn’t, and looking back on it, you can see how Director Brad Silebreig might’ve have intended on only making one film. The novels are changed, such as the ending, but yet their changes are clever.
I’m glad Netflix is finally expanding the story. I’m glad it’s back in business. But yet I’m still kinda sad. Sad because I really felt like this film was dead on target.
The casting is perfect. The entire cast is flawless. Not to mention, they got the best production team imaginable. It’s such a beautiful film, thanks in part to the gorgeous cinematography by three time Oscar winner Emmanuelle Lubezki (Gravity, The Revenant). But yet it doesn’t stop there: They got Oscar winner Rick Heinrich (Sleepy Hollow) to do the production design, three time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) to do the costumes, and it has a great, memorable score by yet to be Oscar winner Thomas Newman. The film nabbed 4 Oscar nominations, for all of the above, and won for its makeup. It’s obvious why.
At the root of the fun though is Carrey. It might not be easy to take him seriously, but I feel like the role doesn’t really ask him to. He Carreys the movie, in the way he knows best.
So yes, we can enjoy the new Netflix rendition. I know I do, and NPH is wonderful in the role. But this movie, whether it be nostalgia or whatever, will always have a special place in my heart. Or what’s left of it.