The Baudelaire orphans deal with an absurd amount of unsatisfactory guardians after their parents die in a fire. And while he's far from ideal, Uncle Monty in A Series of Unfortunate Events is perhaps the best guardian that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire have in the entire book series. When the books were adapted into a movie in 2004, the affable character was portrayed by the Scottish actor, comedian, and musician Billy Connolly, but in Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Aasif Mandvi portrays Uncle Monty. The kid-friendly role is slightly surprising for Mandvi, but his genial performance as Uncle Monty will have you trusting him as quickly as the Baudelaire children do.
The third and fourth episodes of Season 1 of A Series of Unfortunate Events follow the second book in the series by Lemony Snicket (the pseudonym of author Daniel Handler), entitled The Reptile Room. After being placed in the custody of the horrible Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), the three Baudelaire children get sent to the guardian their parents had intended them to live with — their late father's cousin's wife's brother. While they are understandably wary of Dr. Montgomery Montgomery, the herpetologist who lives on Lousy Lane, he ends up being a caring, though not long-term, guardian for the orphans.
Monty is eccentric, as his zany mustache would indicate, and while he doesn't look anything like his book counterpart (who has red hair and is described as a "short, chubby man with a round red face"), Mandvi not only adds more diversity to the cast, but he is superb in the role. After seeing him in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I suspect that fans of Mandvi from his correspondent days on The Daily Show may feel slightly foolish for not realizing what a dynamic actor he is, just like I did.
However, despite my initial surprise to see Mandvi in this role, he does have a substantial amount of acting credits to his name, even if they've been mostly smaller parts. He was Mr. Aziz in Spider-Man 2 (who works in the pizza shop Peter Parker delivers for), Dr. Prashar in Ghost Town (a dentist who works alongside Ricky Gervais' character), Bob in The Proposal (who gets fired by Sandra Bullock's character), and Mr. Chetty in The Internship (the head of the program Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are in), plus many more. As for TV, besides his The Daily Show gig, he had a large role in the HBO series The Brink, which he also wrote for, and now he's going into some new territory with A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Since Uncle Monty doesn't last very long in A Series of Unfortunate Events, here's hoping Mandvi gets more acting opportunities like this — that show off his comedic chops, but also how all-around talented he is — in the future. Because if I were a kid, I'd want a caregiver like Mandvi's Uncle Monty.