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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.58%
Worth A Look: 2.63%
Average: 14.47%
Pretty Bad56.58%
Total Crap: 19.74%

8 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Number 23, The
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by Dawn Taylor

"If you add up the letters in "awful movie" you get 46 -- twice the badness!"
2 stars

Director Joel Schumacher has made some good movies ("Cousins," "Phonebooth") but has mostly directed horrific misfires. One look at "Phantom of the Opera" or the jaw-droppingly abysmal "Batman & Robin" and it becomes clear that the more money he has the work with, the worse the film that he delivers.

In The Number 23 Schumacher has a middlingly large budget, so he’s made a middlingly bad movie. His star is Jim Carrey, who’s proven that with a good director like Michel Gondry, who directed him in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, he can turn in a performance that isn’t all mugging and self-absorption. But try as he might to make an experimental thriller with fantastic/supernatural overtones, Schumacher is no Gondry, and Carrey has repeatedly proven that he’s only as good as the director in front of him.

Here he plays Walter Sparrow, a pleasant enough fellow who works as an animal control officer. His wife, Agatha (Virginia Madsen) gives him a book for his birthday called "The Number 23,” and it eerily echoes aspects of Walter’s own life. It also introduces him to the maddening idea that the number 23 is everywhere – his birthday, the letters in his name, the date that the Hindenberg exploded … you get the picture.

There have been a number of films and books illustrating a man’s descent into madness, and there have been numerous films about obsessions gone haywire. David Cronenberg staked out this territory with The Fly, Dead Ringers and Videodrome, and Darren Aronofsky’s Pi turned mathematics into a crackerjack suspense thriller. It’s obvious that Schumacher wanted to achieve the same sort of thing here, but the film’s fatal flaw is its story.

There’s cleverness, to be sure, but it’s the sort of cleverness that one sees in a film school assignment or a script that’s been developed in workshops, all concept and no execution. Once we get past the central gimmick – man finds book, movie shifts between his real life and the book’s characters, man starts to go crazy – there has to be something more to keep us occupied. Unfortunately, as the mystery unravels, so does all pretense of logic, leaving nothing but a big pile of questions.

One of the biggest questions is this – how far will you go to support your spouse? Agatha never flinches in the face of Walter’s increasing paranoia, helping him mail 23 empty boxes to the book’s author to smoke him out, breaking into abandoned buildings in the middle of the night, and even snatching a body. Considering how many of us have to nag at our spouses to refill the gas tank or take out the trash, Agatha deserves some kind of an award for her dedication.

The biggest problem with "The Number 23" is that it desperately wants you to think that it’s a smart movie, but with every twist of the plot it gets stupider and stupider. It may have a certain appeal for fans of Sodoku puzzles, but for the rest of us, sitting through this film is harder than Chinese algebra.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 02/24/07 10:49:15
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User Comments

8/31/17 brian My street address has 23 characters. So? 2 stars
10/18/09 Matt You can't take Jim from Ace Ventura's comedy to this complete garbage ! I mean WTF... 1 stars
2/10/09 Peter North this movie sucks donkey ass - ha, 23 letters... 1 stars
10/19/08 Samantha Pruitt Jim Carey does a good job but the story is lame! 3 stars
7/19/08 Shaun Wallner A different side of Jim Carrey. 3 stars
6/12/08 DK Over stylised and pappy thriller. Carrey's not bad though 2 stars
1/27/08 mr.mike Sorry , Jim and Joel but it was.....not good. 2 stars
9/17/07 K. Sear Typical pseudo-original crap. 1 stars
8/30/07 Indrid Cold Silly and predictable, but mostly solid. Not sure why it got such horrendous reviews. 3 stars
8/12/07 tejdipty a mind blowing movie grt direction n makin n suspence! 5 stars
8/01/07 Ron just shows, Jim carey should stick to comedy 2 stars
7/28/07 fools♫gold Definitely something average here; I wish I gave "The Tenant" a 2/5. But really, it's nice. 3 stars
4/27/07 Marcus The opening credits are great and after that its all downhill 1 stars
4/18/07 Lindz It was the best movie ever! I loved it! 5 stars
4/05/07 William Goss Fascinating, if only to see how deep they'll dig a hole they can't escape from. 2 stars
3/31/07 Mike Perhaps the dumbest move ever. Incredibly ridiculous. Left very disappointed. 2hrs of pain! 1 stars
3/28/07 Amanda i think this was a great movie! from beginning to the end! 5 stars
3/14/07 Logan Carrey serious? QUE BUENO! 5 stars
3/11/07 Alice SUCKS BIGTIME 1 stars
3/09/07 Tvel Great! The #23 has signigicance to the ending some critics missed it 5 stars
3/06/07 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty decent, til the end. Carey's performance was up and down, all over the place. 3 stars
2/28/07 Jennifer Spry Jim, what were you thinking? This certainly won't get you an Oscar nod! 2 stars
2/26/07 Donny M I thought it was original. Entertaining 4 stars
2/26/07 Felix This one might have been inspired by the very good (german) movie "23" from 1998. 2 stars
2/26/07 psycho you suck 1 stars
2/25/07 Sammeh It's a pretty decent movie. It feels pretty slow and drags out some, but its worth seeing 4 stars
2/24/07 Mere Great opening credits...downhill from there. 1 stars
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  23-Feb-2007 (R)
  DVD: 24-Jul-2007

  23-Feb-2007 (15)
  DVD: 23-Jul-2007

  25-Apr-2007 (MA)

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