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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 brianorndorf

"Behold! The horror of numbers!"
2 stars

If the actual number 23 doesn’t scare the dickens out of you, don’t fear, the movie version won’t either. Jim Carrey gives the material a sweat-stained ride, but Joel Schumacher has his own design for this thriller: to suck the life out of every scene.

If “The Number 23” comes off at all as a frightening experience from the extensive marketing efforts of New Line Cinema, then award their team a gold medal. They’ve earned it; for taking a winded brain-twister and somehow creating the aura of excitement around it.

Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) is a dog catcher stuck in a pleasant, but boring life. When his wife (Virginia Madsen) purchases a book called “The Number 23” as a gift, Walter becomes consumed with the novel’s alternate detective story universe and numeric puzzles, taking him to the brink of obsession when it can’t quite solve them. While his family is politely intrigued with the mystery, Walter heads right off the deep end, chasing the book’s enigmas to a point of mania and violence, and remaining fixated on the multiple meanings behind the number 23.

“Number 23” has a distinctive concept and Jim Carrey seems raring to tango with this convoluted jigsaw puzzle, but the picture never connects with the audience in a rewarding way. It’s a constipated thriller; a delusional pinch of misdirection and screenwriting runaround that should’ve been a bottle rocket to the brain, but instead suffocates in style and a lack of imagination.

Screenwriter Fernley Phillips and director Joel Schumacher seem at odds over what this movie should ultimately be. Phillips has written a piece that’s meant to bend minds with a story of paranoia, shady literary identities (the book’s noir characters are also played by Carrey and Madsen), and the complexities behind that pesky title number.

Schumacher, on the other hand, takes a more conventional approach, trusting his blockbuster-trained directorial skills will help decode the film for a mass audience by the end. “Number” was probably a bit of hell raising fiction at one point during the development process, but Schumacher waters it down with his self-conscious cinematography and neuters it with some unfortunate choices in the editing room.

There should be some point in the picture when Walter finds a spark in the book that he bonds with, thus persuading the viewer to follow him. The moment never shows up in “Number.” Walter goes from twitchy dog catcher to maniacal 23 enthusiast in barely the blink of an eye, heaving the film to a second act the production hasn’t laid the groundwork for. It’s frustrating because this is exactly the type of picture that needs to calm down and make sure, for every minute it runs, that everyone’s onboard. Schumacher loses his patience too soon.

Star Jim Carrey loves to play this sort of loose cannon and his performance is serviceable to the tornado of freak out occurrences that intermittently pop up in the film. Schumacher keeps the actor grounded throughout; preferring instead that Carrey stand back and let him dream up all the oddities. The 23 sequences are undeniably silly, but it’s a credit to Carrey’s persistence that they don’t reach heights of parody.

“Number” has one of those climaxes that impart the filmmakers with a feeling of accomplishment that they could dream up a hodgepodge of left turns nobody could predict. Of course, Schumacher needs 20 minutes of Carrey voiceover to feel assured it strings together, but there’s a mood of twist-ending pride that radiates off the film as it closes.

I’m positive that same sensation will not be shared by the viewer, who will have to beat off the frightening convention of last-act confusion with a stick to even come close to appreciating whatever hidden treasures “The Number 23” is convinced it holds.

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originally posted: 02/23/07 17:27:55
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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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