Twisted holiday cheer
The tagline for “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” boasts, “Christmas cheer takes a holiday.” Not something I wanted to see days before Christmas.But I laughed throughout the movie and emerged considering becoming a Goth because the costumes – especially 14-year-old Violet’s (Emily Browning) black, lacy dress with fishnet sleeves – are divine.Like the series of Lemony Snicket books – 11 out of a planned 13 have been published and are second in popularity with children only to the Harry Potter series – the movie initially warns the audience that it’s about to embark on an extremely unpleasant story involving “a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal (orphans’) fortune and cold porridge for breakfast.” The narrator, Lemony Snicket, suggests if people want a happy holiday story about an elf they leave now and go next door to Theater No. 2.
The unique approach sets the tone, which balances gloom, doom and destruction with humor, wit and resourcefulness.The sad story begins with the death of the parents of the Baudelaire siblings, Violet, Klaus (Liam Aiken) and Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman). After a mysterious fire destroys their home, the family banker, Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall), takes them to live with a distant cousin, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey, who has learned to rely on acting skills rather than annoying antics). He only accepts them to inherit the family fortune.The children deal with the misfortune because each have special talents. Violet invents things. Klaus remembers every bit of information he has read in his parents’ extensive library (much like Dan Thomas, who studies his dictionary and remembers every word, then uses the big ones in movie reviews). Sunny, inexplicably, uses her bite to her advantage.After Olaf tries to kill the children, Mr. Poe takes them to a loving herpetologist, Uncle Monty (Billy Connolly). Then, of course, another unfortunate event occurs, and the children end up at Aunt Josephine’s (Meryl Streep) house, which dangles precariously over a cliff, much like her mental health.
The movie folds the first three books from the Lemony Snicket series into a fantastical 97-minute ride full of eccentric characters, absurd plot twists foiled in mystery and amazing and creepy visuals.One of the most intriguing elements of the film involves its seamless blend of Victorian England atmosphere with modern and sprightly vernacular. Even the infant speaks, with subtitles explaining her precocious thoughts.Though it’s a sad tale about orphans, viewers remain afloat with the resources the children use to deal with idiosyncratic situations.
Violet says, “At times the world may seem like an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe us when we say that there is much more good in it than bad … and what may seem like a series of unfortunate events might, in fact, be the first steps of a journey.”And what might seem like a dismal movie becomes a series of promising events to entertain audiences during the holidays.Kimberly Nicoletti is transforming her wardobe to include only Goth fashion.
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