6.8/10
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A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

When a massive fire kills their parents, three children are delivered to the custody of cousin and stage actor Count Olaf, who is secretly plotting to steal their parents' vast fortune.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (books) (as Lemony Snicket)
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459 ( 20)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Lemony Snicket (voice)
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Bald Man (as Luis Guzman)
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Storyline

Three children - Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire - are left orphaned when their house burns down, with their parents in it, in mysterious circumstances. They are left in the custody of a distant relative, Count Olaf (played by Jim Carrey). It is soon apparent that Count Olaf only cares about the children for their large inheritance. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Mishaps. Mayhem. Misadventures. Oh joy. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, scary situations and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

17 December 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Series of Unfortunate Events  »

Box Office

Budget:

$140,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£2,210,979 (UK) (17 December 2004)

Gross:

$118,627,117 (USA) (22 April 2005)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The duck that nearly gets a stove dropped onto it is well known to American audiences as the Aflac Duck. He's the mascot for the American insurance company Aflac. Their ads feature a pair of people discussing Aflac insurance, but being unable to remember the company's name while he tries to shout it out but simply sounds like a quacking duck. Paramount and Aflac also ran a series of movie tie-in ads. See more »

Goofs

At the end, various shots of the Bauedelaire children from previous scenes are shown. The flashback of Sunny at Uncle Monty's home, where she had been following a CGI image of the "Incredible Deadly Viper", shows her to instead be following a little red toy on a string, pulled along by a crew member off camera. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lemony Snicket: [the Littlest Elf has just come to an abrupt halt] I'm sorry to say that this is not the movie you will be watching. The movie you are about to see is extremely unpleasant. If you wish to see a film about a happy little elf, I'm sure there is still plenty of seating in theatre number two. However, if you like stories about clever and reasonably attractive orphans, suspicious fires, carnivorous leeches, Italian food and secret organizations, then stay, as I retrace each and every one...
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Crazy Credits

The film begins as if it is a stop-motion animated film which calls itself "The Littlest Elf". After thirty seconds of action, everything stops, the set goes dark, and Lemony Snicket's voice-over sounds, saying that unfortunately, this isn't the film you are about to see. If you want to turn away from this movie and watch a film about a happy little elf, there's going to be a showing playing in theater two. If you're into seeing movies with an unhappy ending, attractive children, and terrifying people, with suspicious fires, secret organizations and Italian food, then you're in the right show. "The Littlest Elf" is the only title shown onscreen during the opening credits. As Snicket is doing his voiceover, the scene changes to a person walking through a foggy graveyard. See more »


Soundtracks

Hungarian Dance #5
(uncredited)
Written by Johannes Brahms
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Much better than expected
14 December 2004 | by (London, UK) – See all my reviews

In the wake of Harry Potter the popular Lemony Snicket books have been rushed into production and considering the less than promising prospect of Brad Silberling directing and Jim Carrey starring, I didn't really hold out much hope. It turns out that the film is surprisingly good and apart from The Incredibles this was the only big budget Hollywood film I truly enjoyed this year.

Like Harry Potter, the Lemony Snicket books appeal to adults as well as to children but they are darker, funnier and more eccentric, making them more of a cult than the mainstream success of the Harry Potter series.

If you've read the books, you may miss the clever word play and you may feel that the two older children are miscast. Unlike in the books, the boy doesn't come across as particularly brainy and the girl looks just a bit too sexy as Violet, reminiscent of a teenage Anjelina Jolie. Still they are better than some of the child actors in the Harry Potter series.

On a visual level the film is simply stunning. True, some of it is reminiscent of Tim Burton as both Burton and Daniel Handler are strongly influenced by the work of the writer and illustrator Edward Gor ey. The look of the film is a highly stylized mixture of Edwardian times and the 1950's and convincingly brings to life the parallel universe of the books, where death is ever present and where the whole world has conspired to make the Baudelaire children's life a misery.

Folding books two and three into the storyline of the first one, the plot feels episodic but it stays consistently entertaining. Not being a Jim Carrey fan I was worried about his involvement (I still think Richard E. Grant would have been the perfect choice) but he nails and certainly looks the part of evil, failed thespian Count Olaf and thankfully he doesn't end up dominating the film, turning it into the Jim Carrey show.

The section involving Meryl Streep's fearful Aunt Josephine is the best part of the film. Taking place against backdrops reminiscent of Masaki Kobayashi's stylish horror classic Kwaidan, Lake Lachrymose is as beautiful as it is nightmarish.

Make sure to stay for the beautifully animated credit sequence.


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