Netflix is adapting Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events into an eight-episode Season 1 series based on the children's books by Daniel Handler. The last time we got a screen adaptation of the novels that significantly contributed to millennial catastrophist identity was a 2004 movie, starring Jim Carrey as the villainous and oft-disguised Count Olaf, Meryl Streep as the kindly Aunt Josephine, and Jude Law as narrator Lemony Snicket. So the source material — which is objectively fantastic — is ripe for a reboot. But how does Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events compare to the movie? There are a few key differences.
Most notably, the Netflix series trailer looks much more diverse than the film adaptation. Because of the way the original thirteen books are written, we get plenty of opportunities for character-rich cameos. Fresh off a run on Netflix's Luke Cage, Alfre Woodard replaces Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine. K. Todd Freeman plays Mr. Arthur Poe, who first informs the children that their parents are dead and drops them off at Count Olaf's. And Aasif Mandvi plays the children's herpetologist Uncle Monty.
Also, master of disguise Count Olaf was expertly originated in the movie by Jim Carrey, but Neil Patrick Harris takes over the role for the Netflix adaptation with some very intense prosthetics. Most fans seem unenthused by this casting choice, crediting Carrey's masterful character work with much of the movie's success. They don't seem to think NPH's comedic ability's are much of a match for Carrey's, although Harris has more experience playing a character over the course of a TV series.
The series' aesthetic looks like it's going to be markedly different from the movie, too. The film was directed by Brad Silberling at the pinnacle of Tim Burton mania in the mid-aughts, so it's super bleak, gothy, and otherwise Victorian-feeling. The Netflix series, meanwhile, is being run by author Daniel Handler and the director who was originally slated to make the movie with him, Barry Sonnenfeld. (The pair both left the movie amidst production concerns.) You can tell from just the two trailers that have been released so far that the series' aesthetic is much different. The high whimsy level is the same, but the Netflix adaptation looks much brighter with its pastel color palette. Some fans are saying it has more of a Wes Anderson feel than its previous iteration, which seems like a welcome departure from mall-goth chic.
Finally, the series will cover all 13 books, whereas the film only tackled the first three. Filmmakers intended to do a series of films, but production was halted for so long on the sequel that the actors got too old to reprise their roles. Hopefully, the Netflix version will be able to give us a more complete story.