Saturday, December 18, 2004

Lemmony Snicket Movie

Two Christmases ago my brother-in-law and his wife sent Surenna the first 9 books in Lemmony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Incidents. It took about a year to read all of them to her and was quite enjoyable for both of us. Surenna would ask pleadingly for another chapter at the end of most nights of reading so if it was a weekend and if my voice was not shot I would sometimes comply. I don't want to get into a book review, you can find plenty here. What I liked about the books was that they present the world as a place where bad things can and do happen, which is true about the world but not so much in evidence in most children's literature. Another pleasant aspect of the books is that the heroes of the stories are kids who by being kind, resourcefull and loyal to each other get through all the hardships put in front of them. All good lessons for kids. The books evoke a world which is much like the actual world, but warped in amusing ways and include lots of clever humor which only adults will get. So, on to the movie... We took our eldest two girls (7 & 5) to the movie. There were some intense moments when Dahlia (5) was really scared and she was a bit restless by the end of the film. The dark look of the film and the odd style of cars, buildings and technology fit well with the tone set by the books. Count Olaf--the nemesis of the Baudelaire children--occupied more screen-time than one would have expected from the books. In the books he is at the center of the plot in the sense that he sets up the framework of what the children have to overcome, but then most of the action centers on the children's efforts to extricate themselves from the situation. Had the film followed the structure of the books then this film could have been based on only one of the books rather than on plot highlights from the first three books. Jim Carrey was made for the role of Count Olaf and the little girls who played Sunny steal the show with their cute babblings. Adults will enjoy this film as will children who have read or been read these stories. The film may be too intense for children under 5 or kids who are high-strung.

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