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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 Lybarger

"If you avoid one Virginia Madsen movie this week..."
2 stars

If you circle every 23rd word in this review, you’ll wind up with a message that makes no sense. Neither does paying to see this movie.

Thanks to a protracted ending that undermines all the footage that precedes it, “The Number 23” starts off intriguingly and gradually loses its way with each passing frame. At the screening I attended, teenagers left the theater giddily ridiculing the numerological premise of the movie.

Jim Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, an animal control officer (or dog catcher), who discovers that he has more to worry about than a few stray pooches.

After his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen) gives him a battered paperback titled The Number 23: A Novel of Obsession by Topsy Kretts (do you think that’s his real name?), Walter discovers the tale has eerie parallels with his own life and that the number 23 continually pops up in his life.

As Walter continues to plow through the novel (which plays like a satire of film noir), both the printed tale and his own life take darker turns. The fictional detective Fingerling (also played by Carrey) gradually becomes a murderer, and Walter finds himself following in his doppelganger’s obsessive path.

As the opening credits indicate, the number 23 has enough eerily mysterious properties and folklore to keep conspiracy theorists busy until the end of time (or December 21st, 2012 if the Mayans were correct). As you watch the movie, you’ll discover that the number 23 can be derived from that statistic.

However, unless you were eager to do the math to discover that for yourself, you’ll lose interest in the movie quickly. Freshman writer Fernley Phillips and director Joel Schumacher (the guy who will live in infamy for giving us “Batman and Robin”) appear to devote more of their time with the numerology than with the story or characters.

Once the story has to stand on its own, it quickly collapses. When the inevitable mystery is revealed, it feels as if Phillips and Schumacher used a Magic Eight Ball to come up with an ending.

Worse, the two hammer the conclusion to death even after the audience has already figured it out and moved on. It’s almost as if the filmmakers lacked faith in their denouement or forgot it and had to remind themselves. The inappropriate moralizing and sentimentality only make the conclusion seem even sillier.

Carrey can still deliver an aside nicely, but he and the rest of the cast approach the material with an earnestness that’s downright giggle inducing. Playing it straight only works if the material is worth the gravitas the actors try to convey.

“The Number 23” isn’t the most original thriller out there. It borrows heavily for “Pi,” for example. But unless you are the sort of person who would take pride in knowing that both movies were shot by Matthew Libatique, you might be better off staying at home and figuring out how to link it to Kevin Bacon.

On second thought, stick with sudoku. Note: This review originally appeared in

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originally posted: 03/05/07 11:40:02
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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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