A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2004)

(In theaters, December 2004) No, Tim Burton didn’t direct this film… but other thank the annoyingly static camera setups you wouldn’t guess that its relative unknown Brad Silberling is responsible for this delightfully Gothic kid’s film. Not that it’s any kind of conventional film for the young ones: Dark and twisted enough to be the delight of all older moviegoers, this first Lemony Snicket often surprises by oddball plot twists and ghoulishly awful fake-outs. Jude Law’s dead-pan, almost sorrowful narration sets the tone, but the film rests squarely on the shoulders of Emily Browning and Liam Aiken as the two eldest Baudelaire children whose lives are afflicted by this series of unfortunate events. A who’s-who of other actors revolve around them, most annoyingly Jim Carrey, whose ham-fisted delivery is somehow supposed to be in character. No matter; the film thrives without him, revelling in a series of convoluted gags and weird sets. It is, all in all, surprisingly enjoyable for a film that seldom makes anyone laugh.

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