The characters of Daniel Handler's popular children's book series spring to life in this playfully macabre screen adaptation from director Brad Silberling. Contemporary scoring master Thomas Newman may launch the musical proceedings with the brief, Disney-esque flourish of "The Bad Beginning," but the sound of a needle being brusquely dragged across that record brings us to the composer's true intent: a teasing romp through occasionally dark, rhythmically charged musical corners. Employing his patent take on post-modern impressionism to a greater degree than he did in Finding Nemo, Newman gives a decidedly contemporary spin to the oft-cliched concept of children's music. His score is a an inviting fusion of his tense, ever-inventive, ensemble studio concoctions and a Euro-Goth sensibility inspired by the film's visual sense. Alternately bright and brooding, with a surprise at nearly every turn (not the least of which is "Loverly Spring," a full reprise of the score's creepily saccharine opening song), Newman's score is yet another tribute to his restless, seemingly boundless creativity. --Jerry McCulley
Thomas Newman's score to the 2004 film based on the popular series of children's books starring Jim Carrey.