I missed the boat on Lemony Snicket’s novels when I was a kid, but I finally watched the 2004 movie version of A Series of Unfortunate Events this week.
The cast members whose names you’d recognize are Jim Carrey as the greedy villain Count Olaf and Meryl Streep as the grammar-obsessed paranoiac Aunt Josephine, and they’re as excellent as you’d expect, but I was also impressed by the young lead actors, Liam Aiken and Emily Browning. I’ve seen the first episode of the Netflix series based on the books — which covers some of the same early scenes — and thought it was just OK. Aiken, in particular, is a much more compelling Klaus Baudelaire than his TV counterpart.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that Tim Burton was once attached to direct A Series of Unfortunate Events, because it looks and sounds exactly like one of his films, in all the best ways; it’s dark but not (very) scary, funny but not smug, and weird but not (too) alienating.
It’s a shame this movie didn’t do well enough to merit sequels, but if anyone has strong feelings on whether I should keep going with the Netflix series, let me know.