Like Labyrinth or The Nightmare Before Christmas before it, this proudly grave kid-lit adaptation seems destined to disappoint at the box office but be remembered as a lifetime favorite by a few million Goths in training. The love of reading, a gift for invention and a handful of other brainiac attributes are the guiding virtues as a trio of resourceful orphans are delivered into the slimy custody of their conniving Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). The film's excellent look arrives at a time when Tim Burton isn't making Tim Burton films anymore exec producer Barry Sonnenfeld covered similar terrain in his Addams Family movies and the unflinching depiction of loss and loneliness will tug at the black-lace heartstrings of trivia-deniers of all ages. A smattering of vulgar anachronisms spoils the timeless appeal, with Carrey the worst offender: His excessive ad libs are the symptoms of an advanced case of Robin Williams' disease.
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