Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Any movie whose sole purpose is to let Jim Carrey ham it up already has a strike against it as far as I'm concerned. That's called stand-up comedy, not acting, and is one reason that almost any movie with Robin Williams in it is automatically cause for chugging Pepto Bismol before the previews are even done. It's also the reason Jim Carrey hasn't won an Oscar, despite his intimations that this is some sort of injustice akin to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela.
It's the desire to simultaneously give this film a period look and make it hip that doom it. The film looks like it's set in the 1920s, but Carrey cracks jokes that make it seem like his character Count Olaf watches a lot of bad Fox shows.
Obviously, there will be comparisons to "Harry Potter," but they're not really necessary. Director Brad ("Moonlight Mile") Silberling makes the mistake of hedging his bets, trying too hard to appeal to adults and children at the same time and erring on the side of the adults. The sets all appear just on the verge of being spectacular, but fall short as though the film ran out of money or didn't budget enough in the first place.
While Harry Potter can perform magic, Violet Baudelaire's (Emily Browning) gift is that she's an inventor. Klaus Baudelaire's (Liam Aiken) gift is that he retains everything he's read. Baby Sunny's gift is that we get subtitles for her baby talk and can understand what she's saying. None of these skills is particularly interesting and Silberling tries too hard to make the Baudelaire's feats seem plausible. They do seem plausible and consequently, boring as well. Even Meryl Streep seems like she's just going through the motions here. Throw in Cedric the Entertainer, another non-actor, and you've basically just thrown a grenade of mediocrity into a production that didn't have much going for it in the first place.
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