Friday, June 21, 2013

Movie Review: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

To conclude 2004, we review another Nickelodeon movie. While the majority of the Nickelodeon movies made a decent amount of money, most of them have not been critically acclaimed with the exception of the first two Rugrats movies and The Wild Thornberrys. Similar to when Nickelodeon released Clockstoppers to get into the craze of Spy Kids, the next live action movie would try to get into the fantasy genre. With the major successes of the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Narnia series becoming acclaimed movies making millions of dollars, Nickelodeon Movies tried to do the same time with making a movie based on a book series. The book series they chose was the fantasy series A Series of Unfortunate Events written by Lemony Snicket.

 Unfortunate Events Book Set.jpg

The stories were about three children with special gifts named Claus, Violet, and Sunny Bauderlaire who move in with their relative, an evil count named Olaf, after their parents died. Olaf adopted them just to steal their inheritance. Working together, they traveled to various places and stayed with numerous people only with unfortunate things happening. Nickelodeon Movies had bought the rights to Lemony Snicket's books in 2000 to make it into a movie series. Over the years, there were problems with budget and script rewrites. Eventually, the movie came out on December 17, 2004. Does Nickelodeon Movies finally make a critically acclaimed movie or did they fall on the short end of a popular phase in fantasy movies? This is Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

A balding man (being played by Jim Carrey) with a light, white beard and dressed in an overcoat looks like he is stepping in from left of the image, his arms stretched downward. He faces the viewer with a smirk on his face. In the background, three children are seen dashing to the right away from the arms: A girl toddler in a green dress with pink stripes on the skirt, holding the hand of her older sister, dressed in a blue dress. Leading the siblings is a boy, wearing slacks and a blue sweater over a white dress shirt, running with a suitcase swung back behind him. In between the balding man's arms in the foreground and the children in the background, the title "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events" is shown in gold lettering. Below title reads the tagline "We're very concerned".

The movie starts with a narration by Jude Law talking about three children named Claus Bauderlaire (played by Liam Aiken), and his sisters Violet (played by Emily Browning), and Sunny (played by twins Kara and Shelly Hoffman) moving in with a relative after their parents died in a mysterious fire. They first meet up with their new caretaker, a man named Count Olaf (played by Jim Carrey). The first few minutes in entering the house, Count Olaf reveals to the kids that he doesn't like them and is only using them so that when Violet turns 18, he'll steal their family's fortune. As time went on, the children try to scheme on how they can be able to prevent Olaf from stealing the inheritance. One day when Olaf is driving, he gets the car stuck in a railroad track while the train is coming. The children found a way to escape while the train hit the car with Olaf in it.

Later on, the kids and Olaf end up in court with Olaf and the judge sentenced the kids to live with another relative. They ended up living with their uncle Montgomery Montgomery (played by Billy Connelly) in Peru. While living in happiness, a mysterious man named Mr. Stephano visits the house. The next day, they found Uncle Monty dead by a poisonous viper. However, Sunny finds out that the viper is very friendly and harmless and Claus and Violet claimed that Mr. Stephano did it. Mr. Stephano is none other than Count Olaf in a disguise and he disappears as soon as he was framed for murder. The next house they end up is in their aunt Josephine's (played by Meryl Streep) house in Lake Lacrymose. While settling down, the kids find pictures and newspaper and find out more about the fire that killed their parents. All of a sudden, a mysterious man named Captain Sham entered the house and offers them a ride on his ship. All of a sudden, a huge hurricane appeared and Captain Sham rescues the kids while leaving Aunt Josephine to die. It turns out that Captain Sham was Count Olaf once again and he gains the custody of them once again.

The final plan that Olaf tries to get the inheritance is performing a play involving him and Violet getting married on stage with a legal minister doing the wedding ceremony. It's up to Claus to try to rescue her before it's too late. While reading, he conducts a plan that involves with climbing in a tower and using the same item that Olaf used to start the fire that killed their parents to burn down the stage. The movie concludes with Olaf sentenced to suffer the same unfortunate events that the kids went through, followed up with life in prison. Eventually, Olaf escaped and disappeared without a trace. The kids then went back to their old mansion and finding a note written by their parents with a message of hope. In the end, they lived with another relative and had fortunate events.

When the movie first came out, it made $209 million dollars, taking the spot as the highest grossing Nickelodeon movie ever. However, it received mixed reviews. There were plans for a sequel to be released in 2008, but lack of interest with fantasy movies and the kids growing too old for their parts delayed the movie even more. There were talks of the sequel being stop motion, but as of now, there is no sequel coming out.

As for me, it's a mixed bag. While I did like some things about it, I didn't like some things about it. I loved the actors who portrayed Klaus, Violet, and Sunny, but I hated Jim Carrey as Count Olaf. The Count Olaf in the books was dark, sinister, and mean while Count Olaf in the movie was...goofy and over-the-top. They really should have casted someone else as Count Olaf because all I saw was Jim Carrey portraying as a goofy villain. Also the sets and music was pretty decent. It felt like watching a lighthearted Tim Burton movie. In fact, the movie's production designer Rick Heindricks, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki were all involved in previous Tim Burton movies. While it may distract some people calling the movie a Tim Burton knockoff, I liked the designs and were one of the main highlights of the movie. The story was a bit uneven and the pace was unbalanced with some of it going too slow and others going too quickly. Some of the side characters weren't developed well and some scenes could have had a bit of cutting off to make the pace more even. Overall, while it's not a bad movie, there are so many other better ones to check out such as The Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter movies. I would recommend those than watching this.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we jump to 2005 with Dan Schneider's 3rd All That spinoff show Zoey 101.


Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Unfabulous

On the same day that Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide debuted, another TeenNick sitcom debuted with the demographic focusing on teenage girls. The show was none other than Unfabulous which aired on September 12, 2004.

The show was about a teenage girl named Addie Singer (played by Emma Roberts) who is a regular everyday girl that spends most of her time writing and singing songs about going through middle school. She hangs out with her best friends Geena Fabiano (played by Malese Jow) and Zack Carter-Schwartz (played by Jordan Calloway). Geena is a teenage girl who loves fashion, shopping, and clothes and Zack is obsessed with basketball. Throughout the series, Addie narrates about her life in school, homelife, hanging out with her friends at a Jamba Juice-like store called Juice! where her older brother Ben (played by Tadhg Kelly) works at, and writing songs. She has a crush on a boy named Jake Behari (played by Raja Fenske) whom she dreams of dating, but doesn't tell him her feelings since he already has a girlfriend. Addie continues writing songs about her life and going through her time as a teenage girl.

Unfabulous cast.jpg

The show was created by Sue Rose, who also created Pepper Ann and Angela Anaconda. Rose's style of telling stories about teenage life starring female protagonists, stereotypical archetypes, and down-to-earth situations. Each of Rose's shows had a theme that would represent each show. For Unfabulous' case, it was music. On September 25, 2005, there was an album released named Unfabulous and More that featured songs from the show. The album had reached #45 on the Billboard's Top Heatseekers.

The show lasted for 3 seasons until it ended on December 16, 2007. The actors went on to do other projects.

Emma Roberts went on to do other movies and TV shows such as Nancy Drew, The Hills, Wild Child, Twelve, Scream 4, and American Horror Story: Coven. She's currently dating actor Evan Peters.

Emma Roberts 2011. 3.jpg

Malese Jow is a singer and has been involved in movies and TV shows such as Wizards of Waverly Place, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Leverage, The Social Network, The Vampire Diaries, The Troop, and Big Time Rush. 

Jordan Calloway has been in TV shows and movies such as ER, DISconnected, and The Glades. 


Overall, I found the show to be not bad, but a bit generic. While it's much better than Angela Anaconda, Unfabulous had stereotypical characters that weren't standouts and the stories were pretty predictable. However, some of the actors did a good job performing their characters, especially Emma Roberts. Also some of the songs in the show weren't too bad since they were all written by Jill Sobule. One of the major problems with shows that focused on marketable project placement like the music and a lot less on the characters and stories, it comes across a bit forgettable similar to Romeo! and the other shows that we will be discussing about later on throughout the tribute. If a show like Unfabulous interests you, you can check it out. However the premise is pretty much the norm for every teen sitcom out right now such as Austin & Ally, Big Time Rush, etc. so watching Unfabulous is nothing special. It's just your typical teen sitcom with music and everyday teen problems.

That's all for now. Tune in next time as we conclude 2004 with the next Nickelodeon movie Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide

During 2004, the most popular Nickelodeon sitcom was Drake & Josh. However, another Nickelodeon sitcom was competing to be just as popular, but with a very different setting and humor. That show was Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide which debuted on September 12, 2004.


The show takes place in James K. Polk Middle School where a young teenager named Ned Bigby (played by Devon Werkheiser) and his best friends Simon Nelson "Cookie" Cook (played by Daniel Curtis Lee) and Jennifer "Moze" Mosely (played by Lindsay Shaw) going through everyday school problems. With Ned, he documents everything he goes through in a notebook called the School Survival Guide. During the episode, it would focus on a school scenario like running for school president, dealing with bullies, being the new kid, or how to cope with substitute teachers and Ned would give the audience advise on how to deal with these problems. There were numerous characters in the show such as Ned's crush Suzie Crabgrass (played by Christian Serratos), the geeky kid Coconut Head (played by Rob Pinkston), the basketball obsessed jock Seth Powers (played by Alex Black), Ned's bully Billy Loomer (played by Kyle Swann), Moze's bully Missy Meany (played by Carlie Casey), and Gordy the janitor (played by Daran Norris).

The show was created by Scott Fellows, who previously was a writer and portrayed numerous characters on Weinerville. At the time, he was the head writer of The Fairly Oddparents and created Johnny Test. He wanted to create a show that was based on real kids going through real situations in school, but wanted to add a touch of humor that kids wished that they can go through in school. The show lasted for 3 seasons until it ended its run on June 8, 2007. Some of the actors went on to do other projects while others faded into obscurity.

Devon Werkheiser has been in movies and TV shows such as The First Time, Marmaduke, Three Rivers, Memphis Heat, Beneath the Darkness, Greek, Never Fade Away, and Criminal Minds.

Devon werkheiser.jpg

Lindsay Shaw has been in movies and TV shows such as Devolved, Aliens in America, Teen Spirit, No One Lives, 10 Things I Hate About You, Pretty Little Liars, and Body of Proof.

Lindsey Shaw 2012.jpg 

Daniel Curtis Lee has been in TV shows such as Zeke & Luther, Good Luck Charlie, and Glee.


Christian Serratos has been in TV shows and movies such as the Twilight saga, 96 Minutes, Howling For You, Zoey 101, Hannah Montana, 7500, American Horror Story, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. 

Christian Serratos 2013.jpg 

Daran Norris was brought in by Scott Fellows since he was the voice of Cosmo, Mr. Turner, and Jorgen Von Strangle on The Fairly Oddparents. He also did movies and TV shows such as Veronica Mars, Big Time Rush, and T.U.F.F. Puppy.


There was originally going to be a spinoff called Ned's Declassified High School Survival Guide in which it involved with Ned, Cookie, and Moze going into high school, but with budget issues and Daniel Curtis Lee working on Zeke & Luther, the show never came to be. Overall, this is my absolute favorite Nickelodeon sitcom of the 2000's. It was informative, funny, quirky, and realistic. The characters, while most of them are cliches, are so memorable and funny. What was so great about the show was that, unlike most teen sitcoms, they took the characters and would make fun of them. Also, the tips were so great that it made you feel like you can actually take these tips and actually used them for school. That was very smart and I really appreciate that they would do that. Unfortunately, Ned's Declassified was overlooked when it first came out since Drake & Josh was hugely popular at the time, so not a lot of people saw it. Nowadays, this show has been rediscovered years later and has been dubbed as a classic. It was a show that was a standout when it first came out and it still holds up today. I highly recommend that you check it out!


That's all for now. Hope to see your around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.