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Let’s Get Reel: A Series of Unfortunate Events

Photo Courtesy of YouTube.com

Photo Courtesy of YouTube.com

Paige Hamilton ’17, Movie Columnist

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Enticed by the deliciously knotted, gothic, and complex plot, every third kid in my elementary school read Lemony Snicket’s 13-part book series, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” The books’ dark humor and unusually mature themes made them feel taboo and dangerous. Naturally, these qualities were begging for a film adaptation. The first attempt was in 2004 and hinged on the comedic talent of Jim Carrey. In relation to him, the other performances fell to the wayside. Although it was successful, the movie only covered the first three books in the series. I was disappointed there were no sequels since the story unfolds in unexpected ways–it was criminal to leave out some of the best plot twists! So, I was excited to hear there was finally going to be a complete, TV adaptation of the books. This time however, Neil Patrick Harris was cast as the infamous Count Olaf. Sitting down to watch episode one, “A Bad Beginning,” I was desperately hoping not to be disappointed: Snicket’s satirical and sinister works demanded only the best rendition. I was not disappointed. 

The aesthetic of the show is dark and surreal. Narrated by author Lemony Snicket, played by Kronk–I mean, Patrick Warburton, the episode feels just as self-aware as the books did. The author explains how unfortunate siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny’s lives are and warns the viewers to turn back. I of course, did not. All three of the Baudelaire children have been cast beautifully. Delicate and pale, the three are an image of innocence (an image that, as detailed in the books, is slowly broken down to reveal characters sometimes equally as devious as their captor). Sunny, being only a baby speaks in a series of gurgles. These are translated for the audience and by Violet and Klaus for those they encounter. The secrecy of her mature and witty responses adds a clever comedic element.

The main source of humor in the guilt-inducingly funny story however, derives from Neil Patrick Harris’ performance as the Count. Carefully sculpted face makeup accentuates his nose and eyebrow (note that the latter was singular…). Given Olaf’s absurdity, his acting is equally as exaggerated. While Carrey’s version of Count Olaf remained almost entirely humorous, Harris’ perfectly comes across as darkly humorous. While the character’s ego is enormous and his quirks are abounding, his abuse of the adoptive children is horrifying. I feel mildly ashamed chuckling at his remark about Klaus needing to preserve the tooth brush he used to clean the toilet for his teeth later…Olaf, an aspiring actor, surrounds himself with an odd crew who he claims are in his acting troupe. Their role remains small in episode one, but they showed great potential to serve as an endearingly creepy cohort for the Count.

If you’re longing for some harmless gothic mystery, Netflix’s new “A Series of Unfortunate Events” TV series should be calling your name. You won’t regret it–much.

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Let’s Get Reel: A Series of Unfortunate Events