Lemony Snicket's tragic tale was first adapted for the big screen back in 2004. Jude Law plays the narrating author who relates the tale of the unfortunate children. Violet (Emily Browning), Klaus (Liam Aiken) and Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) are orphaned after a mysterious fire and sent by the lawyer Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall) to live with their closest relative, the sinister Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). The failed actor puts the children to work and conspires to steal their fortune.
Count Olaf forces the children to cook dinner for his theater troop including the Bald Man (Luis Guzman), the White Face Women (Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Adams), and the Hook-Handed Man (Jamie Harris). The children manage to use their incredible wits to escape Count Olaf's devious plan to kill them with a train and go to live with their Uncle Monty (Billy Connolly) who keeps dangerous reptiles. In a ridiculous disguise with a ludicrous accent as an assistant named Stephano, Count Olaf invades the Uncle's reptile room and murders him forcing the children to move to the beach house by Lake Lachrymose with Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep).
The paranoid and grammar-obsessed aunt falls for Count Olaf in disguise as Captian Sham and is forced to fake her death and write that the captain will take the children in her will. The children continue to have to use their intelligence to escape the evil thief and murderer. Fooling everyone from Justice Strauss (Catherine O'Hara) and the Constable (Cedric the Entertainer), Count Olaf works to capture their fortune going to extraordinary lengths.
It is no doubt that the film boasts an incredible cast and Jim Carrey embraces the absurdity of the Count Olaf character. The atmosphere gives off the dark and dreary environment that is reflected in the story of such tragic events. The children do a decent job and even the special effects have held up after over a decade of time has paced. There is a nice sense of humor despite the sadness of the tale.
The first film does not fully conclude the story managing only to cover a few books before rushing to a sort of conclusion that movie adaptations of books often have to do. It was budgeted too high and not enough of a success at the box office to earn a sequel that could have concluded the story and ended with a little more hope for the Baudelaire children. The movie is a fun watch and I will have to read the books to see how closely it follows the original story.