Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37
Watch On
  1. 100
    Exceptionally clever, hilariously gloomy and bitingly subversive.
  2. Reviewed by: Sean Smith
    Pretty charming. Audiences may like it more than critics, but everyone should agree it's one of the most wickedly stylish movies of the year.
  3. Reviewed by: Caroline Westbrook
    Silberling does a good job of introducing Snicket to the big screen in an impressive adaptation that’s always smart, even if it’s rarely spectacular.
  4. Reviewed by: Jennifer Frey
    A gem of a movie, all its adversity and wickedness a backdrop for a story about the remarkable resilience of children
  5. Carrey is a bit of a conundrum: He's the best and worst thing about Lemony Snicket.
  6. 75
    Manages to remain witty throughout.
  7. A pessimistic chronicle that even optimistic 8-year-olds can love.
  8. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    An astounding achievement in production design, an original creation so completely in tune with the books' macabre sensibilities that even the movie's (arguably) happy ending can't diminish its satisfying sense of schadenfreude.
  9. 75
    A work of wonderfully sinister fantasy. Director Brad Silberling is always mindful of his kiddie audience -- the movie is never even remotely scary.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The film's no masterpiece, but at least you're in the hands of people who know what they're doing.
  11. Much credit for this delightfully morose children's film must go to director Brad Silberling's careful orchestration. Please note, in the vocabulary-building spirit of the Snicket books, that the word "orchestration'' here means "coaxing good performances out of child actors and keeping Jim Carrey in check.''
  12. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Snicket's macabre tale of three newly orphaned siblings has been lavishly visualized. But for all its elaborate splendor, production pic lacks the feeling and imagination that have distinguished the best recent kidpics.
  13. 70
    At its best, A Series Of Unfortunate Events is the stuff nightmares are made of, a sick joke of a film that realizes the best children's entertainment doesn't hide from the bleaker side of life, but plunges into the void and respects kids enough to assume they can handle it.
  14. Just might be Jim Carrey's finest screen role...The rest of the movie, however, isn't quite up to Carrey's level.
  15. 70
    Carrey's relentless showboating is almost its undoing.
  16. Reviewed by: Pete Vonder Haar
    Successful in kicking off a largely amusing and visually engaging franchise.
  17. In time, Carrey's monkeyshines, Jude Law's silhouetted reappearances as Snicket, and the inevitable descent of Beverly Hills pathos blunt the movie's fastidious dark-carnival humor.
  18. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A visually arresting and entertaining romp, but it lacks some of the sardonic humor of the popular children's books on which the movie is based.
  19. A series of unfortunate events occurred during the making of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and they all had to do with Jim Carrey.
  20. If you wanted this "Snicket" movie (and the presumed flood of sequels) to be faithful to the novels, you have come to the wrong franchise.
  21. 63
    There is no one in the movie to provide a reasonable reaction to anything; the adults are all demented, evil, or, in the case of Mr. Poe, stunningly lacking in perception, and the kids are plucky enough, but rather dazed by their misfortunes.
  22. Though rich in visual style, the movie is unbalanced in performances and script, ranging, from scene to scene, from go-for-baroque grandeur to strident excess.
  23. 63
    A lavishly mounted blockbuster that has little personality of its own except on a purely visual level.
  24. Devolves into a repetitive comedy that squanders a hugely talented cast.
  25. Mr. Silberling has made a movie that's far rougher in texture and tone than Mr. Handler's books, but while he doesn't have the author's sense of whimsy (or irony) he manages to construct a pleasantly watchable entertainment in all the spaces in the story not laid siege to by Mr. Carrey.
  26. What the movie lacks, alarmingly, is a shriveled black heart, or a big, red tell-tale one pulsing beneath the floorboards -- anything, really, that might infuse it with the sense of true dread that keeps kids coming back for second, third and 11th helpings of the willies.
  27. 60
    Episodic but entertaining fantasy.
  28. 60
    As it ticks by, laboriously, it leaves you feeling that you should be enjoying it more than you are.
  29. Isn't nearly as cheerily unpleasant as it ought to be.
  30. I walked out of it feeling much the same way I did after "The Cat in the Hat" and "The Polar Express" -- jarred by its excess, undernourished by its lack of heart and bored by its lack of originality.
  31. Ends up being one of those heartbreaking movies that gets off to a promising start but never quite creaks to life, despite everyone's obvious best efforts.
  32. 50
    Silberling and writer Robert Gordon have made the fatal error of trying to jolly up the novels, which are often funny but never, ever cute.
  33. 50
    In Robert Gordon's script, Handler's hilariously literate bouts of psychological torture develop no consistent tone, voice or momentum.
  34. Jim Carrey is the prime offender here. He's such an unseemly showoff that the movie keeps stopping in its tracks.
  35. I hate to sound per-Snickety, but this lemon of a movie is a sadly unfortunate event.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 198 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 67 out of 100
  2. Negative: 23 out of 100
  1. Oct 23, 2011
    "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is a decent kid-block buster with a average story line with a monotonous tone. But as always, its Jim Carrey"A Series of Unfortunate Events" is a decent kid-block buster with a average story line with a monotonous tone. But as always, its Jim Carrey (the veteran actor) the saves the screen. Full Review »
  2. Mar 13, 2015
    There are a couple discrepancies between the book and the movie. Ultimately, a good representation of the Baudelaire's orphan story. If youThere are a couple discrepancies between the book and the movie. Ultimately, a good representation of the Baudelaire's orphan story. If you are looking to read more about the tragedy of the Baudelaire orphans, then the books are a great place to start. Full Review »
  3. May 15, 2014
    Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a movie that contains depth and mesmerizing segments of action. It follows threeLemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a movie that contains depth and mesmerizing segments of action. It follows three protagonists: Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire through a series of unfortunate events that blend harmoniously with each of the movie’s abstract settings.

    The exploration of common human fears is not thematic in this movie. Flesh eating leeches, heights and snakes are only some of the disturbing scary things which enticed me to continue watching. These fears peppered the movie and stimulated reflection. Those leeches are the kinds that feast on wooden boats if they smell blood. When the characters had their near death experience with them, it roused empathy. The snakes sound deadly and look frightening, but actually play with toddlers. The heights are what stayed within the border of realism, and whatever went out of that border stirred up a lot of thought.

    This mystery, adventure and comedy film all begins with Lemony Snicket, a cryptic author retracing the steps of the Baudelaire children from within a clock tower.

    With each transition of location, a new mystery is discovered among the siblings that guides them closer to the answer to their parent’s involvement in a secret organization, alongside their death from a fatal house fire. As the kids travel to different locations, thematic symbols about the secret organization are subtly scattered. Together with the mystery, the orphaned Baudelaires go from relative to relative while one kin goes to extreme measures to receive the Baudelaire family fortune.

    The antagonist of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), was off-putting due to the over-exaggeration of acting in almost every scene. It seemed like his character lacked substance and drifted towards reliance on facial expressions to make him appear interesting. The Baudelaire siblings on the other hand were casted beautifully. Each was known as either a bookworm, the finest fourteen year old inventor in the world and a biter.

    The child actors played their roles to a high standard where in the end, some people like me were rather sad their journey ended. Those characters grew onto me. I desperately wanted to have a sneak peak into their future, whether it was going to be utopian or dystopian.

    The movie contains a variety of characters. Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), a pessimistic and impulsive character who lives in a house above the ocean, on a plateau is humorous and irritating. If you think everything around you will hurt you, then you and her will most certainly relate.

    Around the time the Baudelaires see her home’s observatory, the theme of the movie stands out. The large windowpane’s borders portray the secret organization’s symbol, and all those small subtleties become easily noticeable.
    Full Review »