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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

A Series of Unfortunate Events (original title)
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When a massive fire kills their parents, three children are delivered to the custody of cousin and stage actor Count Olaf, who is secretly plotting to steal their parents' vast fortune.


Brad Silberling


Robert Gordon (screenplay), Daniel Handler (books) (as Lemony Snicket)
2,296 ( 406)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jim Carrey ... Count Olaf
Liam Aiken ... Klaus
Emily Browning ... Violet
Kara Hoffman ... Sunny
Shelby Hoffman ... Sunny
Jude Law ... Lemony Snicket (voice)
Timothy Spall ... Mr. Poe
Catherine O'Hara ... Justice Strauss
Billy Connolly ... Uncle Monty
Meryl Streep ... Aunt Josephine
Luis Guzmán ... Bald Man (as Luis Guzman)
Jamie Harris ... Hook-Handed Man
Craig Ferguson ... Person of Indeterminate Gender
Jennifer Coolidge ... White Faced Woman
Jane Adams ... White Faced Woman


Three children - Violet (14), Klaus (12) and Sunny Baudelaire - are left orphaned when their house burns down, with their parents in it, in mysterious circumstances. They are left in the custody of a distant relative, Count Olaf (played by Jim Carrey). It is soon apparent that Count Olaf only cares about the children for their large inheritance. Written by grantss

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This Holiday, Christmas Cheer takes a break. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, scary situations and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



USA | Germany



Release Date:

17 December 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Series of Unfortunate Events See more »


Box Office


$140,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$30,061,756, 19 December 2004, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$118,627,117, 24 April 2005

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital EX | DTS-ES

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


After scouring ballet schools looking for a girl to play Violet Baudelaire, Casting Director Avy Kaufman was exercising at the gym when she spotted Emily Browning on television, and decided to get her for an audition. See more »


During the train scene, the double tracks after the switch are too close together for trains to safely pass each other. See more »


[first lines]
Lemony Snicket: [the Littlest Elf has just come to an abrupt halt] I'm sorry to say that this is not the movie you will be watching. The movie you are about to see is extremely unpleasant. If you wish to see a film about a happy little elf, I'm sure there is still plenty of seating in theatre number two. However, if you like stories about clever and reasonably attractive orphans, suspicious fires, carnivorous leeches, Italian food and secret organizations, then stay, as I retrace each and every one...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final song in the end credits is "The Littlest Elf" theme song. When both the credits and song are finished, the elf's laugh is heard right before the closing Paramount logo appears on screen. See more »


Loverly Spring
By Thomas Newman and Bill Bernstein
See more »

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User Reviews

Entertaining--a word which here means "not perfect, but containing enough good stuff to make it worth watching"
7 June 2005 | by divaclvSee all my reviews

If your childhood was anything like mine, at some point you whined to your parents or another adult, "That's not fair!"--at which point the adult blithely retorted, "Life's not fair." A hard lesson, sure, but one we all learn eventually--life isn't fair; people die, bad things happen to good people, and justice isn't always served. Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, in which siblings Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire start off being orphaned by a fire and then having things go downhill from there, embraces that philosophy with a dark, sly humor that is irresistible. Fortunately, Brad Silberling has kept the spirit of the series mostly intact with this film translation.

The movie encompasses Snicket's first three books, in which Violet (Emily Browing), Klaus (Liam Aiken), and Sunny are foisted off on several guardians by the dimwitted executor of their parents' estate (Timothy Spall). The first and worst of these is Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), a thorough scoundrel who's after the kids' immense inheritance. The children manage to escape, and over the course of the film encounter a kindly snake enthusiast (Billy Connolly) and an ultra-hypochondriac (Meryl Streep), each of whom try to look after the children in their own way. But mostly the Baudelaires look after themselves, each resourceful in their own way--Violet invents contraptions with whatever is at hand, Klaus is a reference desk unto himself, and baby Sunny practices her teething on whatever (or whoever) is convenient. The trio share the sort of unique bond that can only come from having survived a long string of misadventures. Olaf pursues them throughout, aided by disguises which he considers brilliant and which fool everyone except, of course, the ever-observant Baudelaires.

Most of the elements which make Snicket's books so appealing are present here: the entertaining characters, the cleverness of the children, Snicket's delightful black humor (given voice by Jude Law), and even the cunning reverse-psychology promotional scheme of the series (in which the reader/viewer is told, no really, you DON'T want to hear this story, go find something more cheerful, etc.). Carrey gleefully gnaws the scenery as Olaf, and indeed with such a character he can do no less. Browning and Aiken are quite appealing, but the real scene stealer is Sunny (played by twins Kara and Shelby Hoffman). Sunny does not actually speak, but her coos and gurgles are translated via subtitle in a dry and witty manner (another inspiration taken from the series). The production design (combining the best parts of Tim Burton and Edward Gory) creates a fanciful but accessible world which modern inventions like remote car-keys are wielded by characters who dress like they just stepped out of a Victorian melodrama.

It is perhaps too much to ask that the film could have avoided a Hollywood-style attempt to soften its delightfully dreary outlook, or that Carrey could have gone the entire movie without having at least one sequence in which he's just required to be Jim Carrey. But this is kept to a minimum--as Violet herself says, there really is more good than bad here.

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