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28 October 2014
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Movie reviews...
Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Playing it for laughs...Jim Carrey as villainous Count Olaf

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Dark, devious, somewhere between Dickens and Dahl. The source material is wonderful, says Online reader Dean Agius, but Lemony the film is another matter...

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Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events
(Directed by Brad Silberling, starring Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Billy Connolly)

There is something wonderfully warped in the mind of Daniel Handler.

His books - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (there are 11 in the series so far) - are inspired, deviously dark fables, somewhere between Dickens and Dahl, and have become a children's literary phenomenon second only to Rowling's Potter books.

"As Count Olaf Carrey is once again given free reign to contort his face and body to comic effect..."

For the (almost inevitable) big screen adaptation, Dreamworks and Paramount have decided there are more than enough unfortunate events in the first three books alone for a 107-minute long feature, and they're right.

The film, a surefire winter blockbuster, boasts a pacey narrative, marvellous set pieces, inspired casting - and Jim Carrey.

The titular Unfortunate Events are those suffered by the orphaned Baudelaire children, who are placed in the guardianship of Count Olaf (Carrey) - "a fourth cousin three times removed or a third cousin four times removed".

The Baudelaires then find that they have to outwit Olaf and his delightfully treacherous contrivances to steal away their enormous inheritance.

devilish malevolence

These include a couple of alter egos, a wayward train, a deadly viper, a hurricane, lethal leeches, and the hugely entertaining idiosyncrasies of two other guardians: Uncle Monty (Billy Connolly) and Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep).

The young actors - Emily Browning, Liam Aiken and the Hoffman twins, Kara and Shelby - are a joy to watch, somehow imbuing both adult sensibility and youthful verve into their performances.

Then there's Jim Carrey. The problem is he just seems to be enjoying himself a little too much.

Brothers-in-arms...Jim Carrey and director Brad Silberling pictured at the movie's US premiere

In Olaf - who is a mean-hearted, devious, mediocre, money-hungry actor - Carrey is once again given free reign to contort his face and body to comic effect; this is after all, what Carrey does so faultlessly well.

Unfortunately in playing it for laughs, as he frequently does, the character loses the devilish malevolence that permeates the books.

Recommending the film is easy - it has much in its favour, and frankly any children's film that throws the idea of 'goodwill to all' out of the window is alright by me.

Though a shame that director Brad Silberling has not quite hit the darkly subversive mark established by Handler, he has ensured that film and book are not joined at the script, and created an imaginative and utterly enjoyable interpretation all the same.

FIND Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events with our Film Finder: click here.

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