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17 Jan 2017

Home Video Review: Netflix's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Is a Twisted, Hilarious Delight

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Louis Hynes and Neil Patrick Harris in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Louis Hynes and Neil Patrick Harris in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Neil Patrick Harris triumphs as the evil Count Olaf in Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, the latest adaptation of the darkly comic children’s books (previously made into a movie starring Jim Carrey in the Olaf role).

The film was good, but this show is better, with the first two episodes directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, former cameraman for the Coen brothers and director of Men in Black and The Addams Family. The TV version is far more twisted, and Harris’ Olaf is a dastardly villain. He’s also really, really funny.

The plot involves the truly sad and depressing story of orphaned children forced to live with Olaf as he tries to steal their inheritance. Patrick Warburton is a deadpan delight as Lemony Snicket, alleged writer of the “true” story and the narrator. The kids, led by Malina Weissman as Violet and Louis Hynes as Klaus, are perfect. Baby Sunny, played by Presley Smith, is hilarious, reminiscent of the amazing baby Pubert from Addams Family Values.

Harris gets to have a blast here, especially when Olaf goes into disguise mode. He also sings the theme song, in which he urges you to look away and not watch, because the story is just too depressing. That’s far from the truth: It’s totally worth watching.

A Series of Unfortunate Events is streaming on Netflix.

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