Jim Carrey as Count Olaf was by far the best thing about Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the 2004 movie that semi-successfully adapted three of the 13 books. Whatever you think about the film, Carrey's performance was amazing.
Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf is by far the best thing about A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Netflix's brilliant recent adaptation of the Lemony Snicket books.
So I got to thinking, which version of Count Olaf was better: Jim Carrey's or Neil Patrick Harris'? Let's compare!
Who Looked The Part More?
Just wanted to get this one out of the way because it's a tie: both look identical to Count Olaf from the books — balding head, big nose, crazy hair and facial fuzz — so I can't properly declare a winner in this department. BOTH versions get a point here.
Who Was Funnier?
I'll be honest, both versions portray Olaf as way more comedic than he is in the books, and that's not a bad thing at all considering that Carrey and Harris are amazing comedic actors. Most of the comedy is found when Olaf appears in his many disguises in hopes of getting the Baudelaires' fortune at their new guardians' home.
On the one hand, Jim Carrey is infamous for bringing wild and zany characters to life via makeup and his elastic face/body. On the other hand, Neil Patrick Harris is versatile and solid in whatever comedy you put him in: sitcoms, raunchy R-rated comedies, and now a surreal Netflix TV show. So which got me to laugh more, as this sometimes downright idiotic man who thinks he's a brilliant actor but clearly is not?
Carrey has his dinosaur scene, which still to this day makes me laugh so hard that I nearly cry.
In the Netflix version, certain jokes that appeal more towards adults had me rolling on the floor, but there was one joke where Harris' Olaf breaks the fourth wall (more like shatters it) and I ran out of breath from laughing:
Harris is the Stefano disguise is hilarious. However, if you look at Jim Carrey's performance in the Stefano disguise, it was just awkward. I don't know why but nothing he did as Stefano worked, except for maybe one or two lines. I never got a single chuckle from it, and I wasn't even sure what kind of accent Carrey was supposed to be doing.
That being said, Carrey's Captain Sham disguise cracked me up, while Harris' Sham came off as kind of forced. So both performances have their ups and downs — but which is funnier?
It's a hard choice, but I am going to give the point to...Neil Patrick Harris, because if I were to compare how much I laughed, the Netflix show had me busting up so much more.
Who Was More Threatening?
While I love the comedic side of both performances, Count Olaf was a very sinister character in the books despite his his eccentric nature — so how was that portrayed in the two live-action versions?
Both performances are overshadowed by the comedy, but also have their scary moments. It's intense when Harris' Olaf threatens, then slaps, Klaus. However, the point here does go to Carrey, who did a much better job at switching from an eccentric idiot to a terrifying villain in an instant; Harris' Olaf becomes less and less threatening as the series goes on (especially in the Miserable Mill section of the story, where Olaf basically became a joke).
Don't get me wrong, Harris has his moments, but in comparison to Carrey's version, Harris just wasn't as scary — even though neither of them properly portray the scary character from the books.
And the winner is.....BOTH!
Okay, okay, I know that seems like cheating, but I'm just as surprised as you are! I was expecting to love the Harris version of Olaf over Carrey's, but instead — when I looked at it objectively — I decided that I enjoy both equally, just in different ways.
Both have their ups and downs, but also had me laughing, smiling and even fearing them. While the Netlix series is a superior adaptation of the books, both versions have great portrayals of the villain Count Olaf.
Call it a copout if you want, but that's just my opinion. Who's your favorite?
Watch Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events on Netflix now!