merylfest: LEMONY SNICKET’S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS (2004)
Thanks to some deeply quirky source material and some pretty amazing scenery to chew, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events served as a wholly enjoyable and easy-to-love stomping ground for Meryl Streep‘s comedic stylings. And as Aunt Josephine, the neurotic grammar freak who lives in a house treacherous hovering above a lake filled with man-eating leeches, Streep is a brief but shining part of this three-book anthology adaptation. Having read the series prior to seeing the movie, I must say I was sufficiently pleased with the Wide Window segment that Streep’s character was a part of.
Played with typical skill and a generally untapped flair for children’s comedy, Streep has great chemistry with co-star Jim Carrey as the evil Count Olaf. A collaboration that later provided us with this gem. (Love the “Body snatcher!” accusation.) The two seem to be a rather strange combo, seeing as though she’s made a career out of subtle, nuanced performances, and he’s made one out of being as animated and crazy-faced as possible. But in true form that proves the two of them having more skill than what’s at surface level, they met each other in the middle on the hammy scale. Perhaps Carrey learned a thing or two from his career-best performance (and least overzealous one to boot) earlier in the year, in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
And though the movie managed some technical Oscar nominations (and a win for Best Makeup), it seems a true shame that Streep’s surprising yet satisfying supporting turn went unnoticed. The “doorknob could shatter at any moment” scene seems like a perfect choice for her Oscar clip. But alas, the movie sort of tanked and was mostly forgotten by moviegoers. Which just means repeat viewings by the select few who loved it are absolutely necessary. If nothing else, it’s worth seeing for the mock opening credits featuring a grinning claymation elf with a shotgun.
Meryl’s Performance: B+
The Film: B+