It is quite rare to hear a voice within a movie advise you not to watch that movie currently on the screen. Logically, deceiving the audience with a happy little elf giggling and frolicking through a tiny village of singing flowers and critters, then stopping the scene dead in its tracks to apologize for the wrong movie is only going to make people turn to the person next to them with smirks on their faces, right? And especially if the audience is then forewarned that the movie they are about to watch is extremely unpleasant. Not only that, but they are then introduced to three children who just became orphans due to their parents dying in a terrible fire. After all this, the audience is then told that there are probably still seats available in Theater #2. By this point, it is easy to infer that Theater #1 has gone completely empty. Maybe in some cases it would be, but in the case of Lemony Snicket, it only drew people's noses closer to the screen, widened their eyes to the point to where the whites would have been visible in a cloud of fog, and pulled tears out of those eyes faster than Violet Beaudelaire could tie her hair up in a ribbon.
Based on Lemony Snicket's first three A Series of Unfortunate Events novels; The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window, the film A Series of Unfortunate Events follows the miserable lives of siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Beaudelaire as their lives are forever changed for the worse. With their parents suddenly killed in a mysterious fire that destroyed the Beaudelaire mansion, the well being of the three children was temporarily placed in the hands of banker Mr. Poe, of Mulctuary Money Management. Though he means well and wants nothing less than the best for the Beaudelaire orphans, the three of them would have been better off with a jar of mustard as a temporary guardian. Mr. Poe spent more time coughing into his handkerchief than he did speaking to the three orphans, and if he wasn't doing this, he was falling for a most greedy and despicable plot of the sinister Count Olaf, the villain of an actor that eventually took in the Beaudelaires. Gullible to say the least, Mr. Poe never saw through Count Olaf's schemes to steal the Beadelaire fortune until it was almost too late.
I typically don't enjoy movies that are simply sad and woeful the entire duration. And it's true that the three Beadelaires encounter nothing but a series of unfortunate events after their parents died in the fire. And it's also true that it's directly stated that "The movie you are about to see is extremely unpleasant" right at the beginning. But in the end, though what lay ahead for the Beadelaires remained unclear, they were reminded that as long as they had each other, they had their family. I think that little piece of assurance ignited a flame of hope for the three orphans, and thus gave the movie's mood a slight lift.
I give this film five out of five stars for uniqueness. It is not everyday that you see a film that literally advises you not to keep watching it, and yet it still draws you in. Typically, if another movie-goer advised you not to see a movie, you wouldn't, let alone having the movie itself tell you that. I would reccomend this to anyone willing to go on a bit of an adventure to find goodness during bad times.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.