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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Lemonysnicket
Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld
Produced by: Laurie MacDonald
Walter F. Parkes
Jim Van Wyck
Written by: Robert Gordon (screenplay)
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editing by: Michael Kahn
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
US & Canada
DreamWorks Pictures
International
Nickelodeon Movies
Release date: December 17, 2004
Running time: 107 minutes
Film rating: Pg
IMDb profile
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Theatrical release poster

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is an American mystery film produced by Nickelodeon Movies and released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures and released into theaters on December 17, 2004. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and nominated for Best Original Score for Thomas Newman.

Plot

Inventive Violet Baudelaire (Emily Browning), her intelligent younger brother Klaus (Liam Aiken), and their sharp-toothed, precocious baby sister Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) are orphaned when a mysterious fire destroys their parents' mansion. Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall), in charge of the Baudelaire estate and fortune, entrusts them to their closest relative, a first cousin, the obnoxious Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), who is a playwright/actor only interested in the money Violet will inherit when she turns 18. When he learns that he will not be getting the fortune he stops all friendliness to the kids; making them do terrible chores, slaps Klaus when he protests, grabs Sunny and abuses them when they do not make roast beef for dinner (he did not request it to the kids). One morning the kids' luck seems to turn when Olaf loses custody of the children after unsuccessfully attempting to kill them in a railroad crossing "accident". Although Count Olaf loses the kids for the near tragedy, Mr. Poe refuses to believe that Olaf tried to kill them despite it being obviously true.

Poe then sends the Baudelaires to live with their uncle, Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (Billy Connolly), a cheerfully eccentric herpetologist, who plans a trip with the children to Peru. But their stay with Uncle Monty is cut short when Olaf appears in disguise as a man named Stephano, murders Monty, and frames a large and poisonous viper for the killing. As the disguised Olaf prepares to spirit the children away, Sunny reveals the snake's true gentle nature, and Olaf's plot is exposed. Poe accepts Olaf's guilt, though not his true identity. Olaf abandons his disguise and escapes in his getaway car.

The orphans are then sent to live with their Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), in her house perched precariously on the edge of a cliff overlooking the waters of the vast Lake Lachrymose. She has numerous irrational fears, and yet lives in a house populated with many of the things she is terrified of; but her fear of realtors prevents her from moving. A room of photographs and documents apparently contains clues to the cause of the fire that killed the orphans' parents. However, Olaf arrives once again, disguised as a sailor named Captain Sham, and quickly gains Josephine's trust. A hurricane comes to Lake Lachrymose, and Olaf regains control of the children after rescuing them and leaving Josephine to be eaten alive by deadly leeches off-screen.

Count Olaf learns that he can only have a family fortune if he marries someone or is a blood relative. He concocts his final plan, involving a play starring himself and Violet, in which their characters get married. But Olaf casts a real judge (Catherine O'Hara) as the fictional judge in the play and gets a real court-approved marriage certificate; in this way the staged marriage will technically be a legal one, gaining him unlimited and unconditional access to Violet's inheritance and fortune. To ensure Violet's co-operation, he holds Sunny hostage in a cage held from a tower window, ready to be dropped if Violet refuses or finds a loophole out of the marriage. However, Klaus succeeds in stopping him when he triumphantly climbs to the room in the top of the tower, finds a light-focusing apparatus that Olaf used to set fire to the Baudelaire mansion, and incinerates the marriage certificate with it just as he reveals his scheme to the entire crowd watching the play. Olaf is arrested and sentenced to suffer every hardship that he forced upon the orphans before spending his life behind bars. The kids learn that Olaf is acquitted by a jury and leaves; it is later discovered by the court that the jury consisted of Olaf's theater troupe allies and that the decision was a mistake; but Olaf has since disappeared.

At the ruins of the Baudelaire mansion, the three orphans find a letter left to them by their parents before they became orphans, which contains words of hope and encouragement. The envelope also contains a spyglass, one of several that signify the presence of a secret society his parents and relatives belonged to. The orphans are then sent to new "fortunate" guardians.

Cast

Development

Nickelodeon Movies purchased the film rights of the A Series of Unfortunate Events book series in May 2000.[1] Paramount Pictures, owner of Nickelodeon Movies, agreed to co-finance, along with Scott Rudin.[2] Various directors, including Terry Gilliam and Roman Polanski, were interested in making the film. One of author Daniel Handler's favorite candidates was Guy Maddin. In June 2002, Barry Sonnenfeld was hired to direct. He was chosen because he previously collaborated with Rudin and because of his black comedy directing style from The Addams Family, Addams Family Values and Get Shorty.[3] Sonnenfeld referred to the Lemony Snicket books as his favorite children's stories.[4] The director hired Handler to write the script[5] with the intention of making Lemony Snicket as a musical, and cast Jim Carrey as Count Olaf in September 2002.[5]

Reception

The film has garnered mostly positive reviews. Based on reviews from 159 critics collected by the rating website Rotten Tomatoes, the film was given a score of 72%, with an average score of 6.6 out of 10.[6] Metacritic calculated that the film received generally favorable reviews from critics with an average score of 62 out of 100, based on 37 reviews.[7]

Box office

The film was released in the United States and Canada on December 17, 2004 in 3,620 theaters, earning $30,061,756 in its opening weekend.[8] In its run, A Series of Unfortunate Events managed to stay in the number one position for its first week, before facing competition from Meet the Fockers and The Aviator.[9] The film eventually grossed $118,634,549 in US totals and $90,439,096 elsewhere, coming to a worldwide total of $209,073,645.

Awards

Makeup designers, Valli O'Reilly and Bill Corso, won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Production designer Rick Heinrichs and set decorator Cheryl Carasik (Art Direction), Colleen Atwood (Costume Design) and composer Thomas Newman (Original Music Score) were also nominated for their work at 77th Academy Awards.[10]

Home video

Cover Title Released
A Series of Unfortunate Events VHS A Series of Unfortunate Events April 26, 2005
A Series of Unfortunate Events DVD A Series of Unfortunate Events April 26, 2005

Trivia

  • It became the first Nickelodeon film to win an Academy Award and the second to be nominated.
  • This film marked Nickelodeon Movies' return to making box-office successes worldwide.

References

  1. Hayes, Dade (May 10, 2003). "Nickelodeon Movies nabs Snicket series ". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117781435. Retrieved on April 5, 2009. 
  2. Bing, Jonathan (February 26, 2002). "H'w'd stalks crime scribe ". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117861500. Retrieved on April 5, 2009. 
  3. Fleming, Michael (June 11, 2002). "Par on Snicket ticket ". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117868357. Retrieved on April 5, 2009. 
  4. Fleming, Michael (December 12, 2002). "Snicket in thicket ". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117877394. Retrieved on April 5, 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fleming, Michael (September 18, 2002). "Jim's juiced for Lemony ". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117873013. Retrieved on April 5, 2009. 
  6. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved on April 8, 2009.
  7. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on April 8, 2009.
  8. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on April 8, 2009.
  9. The Top Movies, Weekend of January 14, 2005. The Numbers. Retrieved on April 8, 2009.
  10. 1994 (77) Academy Awards. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved on April 10, 2009.
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