Lemony Snicket’s-Buyer’s Remorse for A Studio-You Sir Are No Harry Potter
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events has some pretty easy jokes built right in, and yes, I am going to use a few of them. The first unfortunate event is the title. Some thug with a three colored 1991 Toyota Celica, with the newly added fuel efficiency wing and a overpowered stereo system that rattles the fine Japanese engineering, is not going to walk up and say “yeah, give me two for Lemony Snicket,” nor will he say, “yeah, give me two for Lemony Snicket A Series of Unfortunate Events, dog.”
The name may have been great for the book, because people that read books, don’t care if a film has a long title, but a lot of people who go to the movies, in fact most of the people, who go to the movies, are products of an educational systems that has failed them, often intentionally and by design. They don’t like titles that make them feel stupid or silly, as if saying it could question their fragile, tiny manhood. Likewise, just to show I pick on everyone now, you won’t get some alcoholic redneck to say “Lemony Snicket” very easily either. Lemony Snicket sounds more like a horse that let aforementioned closeted redneck down at the track, or his secret KKK name, etc.
Now that we have the typical nasty opening paragraph out of the way, I will try to give you some idea what this film is about. In many ways the story is far, far from original, although the studio tried to play it off as such. The core story-three young kids are recently orphaned and have no alternative but to move in with their evil, twisted uncle. That isn’t a very original premise but some originality does reside in the visuals, which are pretty good at points and are most of what keeps the film interesting.
With a budget in the range of $120-$135 million one has to wonder, however, if what is on the screen is worth the cost. Keep in mind, that we are talking about enough George Washington’s to make an episode of Star Wars or say nearly three Underworlds or 30 MirrorMasks, which in some ways is visually similar at a tiny little fraction of the budget. Thus, in terms of what was done with the cash on hand, these boys score an F on this project. Yeah, it looks cool at points, but it looks about $50-$60 million cool, not $120 cool or $130 cool. That is a problem for director Brad Silberling whose previous credits include the painful and disturbing Casper and the sappy but somewhat underrated City of Angels. Honestly, Bradley was a weird pick for this job and he should have never received the final nod.
In case you are unaware, the books upon which the film is based, are very successful. After seeing the movie, I don’t get it. Why are these books popular? I don’t know. The Harry Potter stuff I can understand, but this was a little puzzling. It has the usual components found in a successful kids movie or book–adults underestimate the kids, kids outsmart the adults. Pretty simple formula there. But this just isn’t that interesting of a flick and I think most kids probably will not be that taken by it, either. To be sure, there is an abundance of swirling stimulus and great set design and visual effects, but once again, a studio has forgotten that it all starts with the script, and this script, just isn’t that interesting. Some works make great reads but horrible movies. This may just be the case here.
Jim Carey, who plays Count Olaf is his typical Jim Carey self, but it seems a bit like a cry for help, a sort of “Jesus not again, here I go, stop me–yes, somebody stop me.” followed by weeping and a longing for Canada and maple. We’re tried of your bit and your tried of your bit. This will not be another successful chain of films, sorry, as the magic isn’t there. No magic wand is going to make this Harry Potter.
Story C- (Seems that this story, with all of its clues and investigations, lends itself more to novelization than the big screen.)
Acting B- (Carey is fine, but he is going through the motions of being Jim Carey to some extent. At times there is an air of “oh yeah, they paid, like $20 million dollars for this, I better turn it back up a notch.)
Visuals B+ (With a $120 to $135 million dollars a director has to bring his A game or he is in the wrong line of work. Great visuals but for the money spent, we should have gotten way more.)
Originality/Innovation C+ (Sometimes something, whether it is a book, a movie or a newly discovered virus, can be new and innovative, but that doesn’t mean its great.)
Enjoyability Grade C-
Home Theater/HD Factor B (This will be a great HD flick for hypnotizing kids.)
Overall Grade C