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A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

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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.



(screenplay), (books) (as Lemony Snicket)
569 ( 415)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


This Holiday, Christmas Cheer takes a break. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

| |  »




Release Date:

17 December 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Series of Unfortunate Events  »

Box Office


$140,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£2,210,979 (UK) (17 December 2004)


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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When the children first meet Count Olaf and Jim Carrey says, "Wait, give me that last line again," was not actually in the script, it was Carrey staying in character and wanting to try it again, but they kept the cameras rolling and felt it worked the way it happened. See more »


When Klaus shows the book "Inheritance Law and You" to Violet, he is holding the head of the camel mask. When he holds the book up, the mask is right behind him. See more »


[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...
See more »

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 »


Referenced in Brows Held High: Sleeping Beauty (2012) See more »


Loverly Spring
By Thomas Newman and Bill Bernstein
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Quality movie, unless you're a die-hard fan of the books
23 December 2004 | by (IL, USA) – See all my reviews

I first heard of these books when I saw my younger brother reading them. I got curious and when I saw they were making a movie was sure to read the first three before seeing it. Right off the bat, I can tell you that if you are a completely possessive fan of these books you might be rather disappointed by this movie. The movie condenses books "The Bad Beginning," "The Reptile Room," and "The Wide Window" by slicing the first book in half and placing the other two inside of it, like a sandwich. Of course in order for this to be possible the story has to change to make it work, so some elements are not factual. Combine this with Snicket's usually clever details in the book having to be cut down and very loyal fans are going to be disappointed. The movie also adds in a subplot that the first three books do not possess, but that the later ones (according to my brother) do, so I was a bit bothered by having that element ruined if i choose to read more of the series.

I, however, understand the difference between books and movies, and think that on the whole they succeeded in keeping the tone and uniqueness of this series. Carrey as Olaf is wonderful and adds something to a character that seems to be rather dry in the books and the children are believable and easy to sympathize with. While humor was scarce, the tone of the books is more clever than humorous anyway.

Overall my only issues are plot-wise and how this creates a choppy feel to the film, but I don't know of a way it could have been done better. The movie was well done with(as many are saying) excellent scenery, costumes, etc., yet nothing made this film completely amazing. It is however, worth the time and money and one should definitely read the books. ~Steven C

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