I’ve only read one of the books in the long-running series of tongue-in-cheek melodramatic novels this is based on, but the movie seems to do a pretty good job of capturing the spirit and style of the source, including the narrator’s tendency to bemoan his duty to recount such miseries and to pause to explain the meaning of words and phrases in their specific content. Jude Law gives voice to Lemony Snicket, the alleged author of the books.
The three Beaudelaire orphans comprise the resourceful inventor Violet (Emily Browning), the voracious reader Klaus (Liam Aiken), and their baby sister Sunny (alternately Kara and Shelby Hoffman), who can bite through just about anything. The children must be resourceful as events and the villainous Count Olaf (Jim Carrey in a role that’s almost made for him) conspire to move them from home to home. In the course of this they encounter Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman (no relation to the twins who play Sunny), Cedric the Entertainer, Craig Ferguson, Timothy Spall, Catherine O’Hara, Billy Connolly, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Adams, and a number of other well-known actors in the highly imaginative story world.
Unfortunately, the film was probably just a bit too weird, cerebral, and stylized for most audiences, not to mention a bit disjointed and oddly slow-moving during the climax, so it didn’t make a lot of money and the planned sequels never materialized.
But despite its flaws I largely enjoyed it, and if you go in for this sort of thing you might find it worth a look.
A bit of trivia from the Internet Movie Database: When the children first meet Count Olaf he says, “Wait, give me that last line again,” and reportedly that’s neither in the script nor an ad lib; it’s Jim Carrey actually asking for his cue to be repeated. But it worked so well it was left in the final edit.)