I saw Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events last Saturday and rather enjoyed it. I've been reading the series, and had been wondering how they would make a movie based on the first three books that stayed faithful to the series and yet had a satisfying ending. Part of the point of the books is that there is no happy ending. The end of each book simply leads into the new misfortunes of the next book. They couldn't just wrap it all up in a little bow and be at all faithful to the books, and yet if they had ended it just the way each of the books do it would have been very off-putting for movie goers. "To be continued" rarely works at the close of a film.
I was pleasantly surprised at the method chosen. It certainly did not stay married to the original plots, but it kept the spirit mostly intact. There were one or two moment (especially at the end) that gave my eyes the urge to roll, but overall I found that it worked. Some of the charm of the novels was lost on the way to the screen, but there was enough charm leftover to carry us through.
I did not find Jim Carrey to be as annoying as I usually do. His Count Olaf, being a bad actor, was hammy but suitably hammy. He was leering and villianous, but in an entirely different way from, say, The Mask.
The children chosen for the leads were strong enough to carry a movie. (It seems that casting directors are getting the dream of the crop for child actors these days.) Of the Baudelaire children I liked Emily Browning's Violet better than Liam Aiken's Klaus. I'm not sure as to whther this was because of how he was acted or because of how he was written. I was also a little sad to see one of Violet's great adventure bits handed over to Klaus in the movie. (The twins who played Sunny weren't really required to do much more than look cute.)
I do recommend the movie, especially if you like kid lit and have read the books. If you do see it, stay to the end, as the closing credits are very well designed and deserve to be watched.