Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a 2004 film directed by Brad Silberling. It is an adaptation of the The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window, being the first three books in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The film stars Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken, Emily Browning, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly, and Meryl Streep, with narration by Jude Law and cameos by Catherine O'Hara and Dustin Hoffman. The film tells the story of three orphans who are adopted by a mysterious theater troupe actor named Count Olaf as he attempts to steal their late parents' fortune.
Nickelodeon Movies purchased the film rights to Daniel Handler's book series in May 2000 and soon began development of a film. Barry Sonnenfeld signed on to direct in June 2002. He hired Handler to adapt the screenplay and courted Jim Carrey for Count Olaf. Sonnenfeld eventually left over budget concerns in January 2003 and Brad Silberling took over. Robert Gordon rewrote Handler's script, and principal photography started in November 2003. A Series of Unfortunate Events was entirely shot using sound stages and backlots at Paramount Pictures and Downey Studios. The film received generally favorable reviews from critics, grossed approximately $209 million worldwide, and won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.
Inventive Violet Baudelaire, her intelligent younger brother Klaus and their sharp-toothed precocious baby sister Sunny are orphaned when a fire destroys their parents' mansion. Mr. Poe, a banker in charge of the Baudelaire estate, entrusts them to their "closest relative", the obnoxious Count Olaf, who is only interested in the money Violet will inherit when she turns 18.
Count Olaf treats the kids awfully, giving them a long list of chores to do everyday. One day, Count Olaf brings the children for a drive, pretending to drive them to the countryside. He makes a stop at a convenience store. The orphans realize that Count Olaf has parked the car in the middle of a train track, and the train is coming. The orphans miraculously survive the incident. Mr. Poe does not believe that Count Olaf tried to kill them, only believing that Count Olaf let them drive the car alone. He sends the Baudelaires to live with their uncle, Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, a cheerfully eccentric herpetologist. The Baudelaires live happily with Uncle Monty, who plans a trip with them to Peru. Their stay with him is cut short when Olaf appears in disguise as a man named Stephano, who murders Monty and frames a large and friendly non-venomous viper (ironically called the Incredibly Deadly Viper) for the killing. As the disguised Olaf prepares to spirit the children away, Sunny reveals the snake's true gentle nature, and Olaf's plot is exposed. Poe accepts Olaf's guilt, though not his true identity. Olaf abandons his disguise and escapes.
The orphans are then sent to live by Lake Lachrymose, where their Aunt Josephine resides in a house perched precariously on the edge of a cliff overlooking the waters of the vast lake. She has numerous irrational fears such as:a telephone, a sofa and a stove, and yet lives in a house populated with many of those things of which she is terrified - her fear of realtors prevents her from moving. A room of photographs and documents apparently contains clues to the cause of the fire that killed the orphans' parents. However, Olaf arrives once again, disguised as a sailor named Captain Sham, and quickly gains Josephine's confidence. A hurricane comes to Lake Lachrymose, and Olaf regains custody of the children after rescuing them and leaving Josephine to be eaten alive by deadly leeches.
Olaf concocts his final plan involving a play starring himself and Violet. In the play, his character marries Violet's character, but in such a way that the staged marriage is legal, gaining him access to her inheritance. This move is accomplished by Olaf's casting of Justice Strauss, as the supposed judge in the play; with her in this role, the marriage is technically legal. To ensure Violet's co-operation, he holds Sunny hostage. However, Klaus succeeds by incinerating Olaf's marriage certificate when he triumphantly climbs to a nearby tower, using the same light-focusing apparatus that Olaf used to set fire to the Baudelaire mansion. Olaf is arrested and is sentenced to endure every unfortunate event he put the children in. After that, he subsequently escapes. At the ruins of the Baudelaires mansion, the three orphans find a letter left to them by their parents before they became orphans, which contains words of hope and encouragement. The envelope also contains a spyglass, one of several that Klaus interprets as implying the presence of a secret society, called V.F.D, to which his parents and relatives belonged.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Carrey ... Count Olaf
Liam Aiken ... Klaus
Emily Browning ... Violet
Kara Hoffman ... Sunny
Shelby Hoffman ... Sunny
Jude Law ... Lemony Snicket (voice)
Timothy Spall ... Mr. Poe
Catherine O'Hara ... Justice Strauss
Billy Connolly ... Uncle Monty
Meryl Streep ... Aunt Josephine
Luis Guzmán ... Bald Man (as Luis Guzman)
Jamie Harris ... Hook-Handed Man
Craig Ferguson ... Person of Indeterminate Gender
Jennifer Coolidge ... White Faced Woman
Jane Adams ... White Faced Woman
Directed by Brad Silberling
Produced by Laurie MacDonald
Walter F. Parkes
Jim Van Wyck
Written by Robert Gordon
Daniel Handler (books)
Based on The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window by