The Number 23 (2007)

Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston
Walter Sparrow becomes obsessed with a novel that he believes was written about him. As his obsession increases, more and more similarities seem to arise.
Jim Carrey has been sharp in a number of non-comedic roles, but this lurid, overheated, and self-serious potboiler is not one of them. The Number 23 is clumsy, unengaging, and mostly confusing.
  • 23 Feb 2007 Released:
  • 05 Jul 2005 DVD Release:
  • $35.1M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Watchable, not Wonderful6/10
There has been a great deal of critical scorn directed at 'The Number 23', which almost made me rethink my decision to see it, despite finding the concept very enticing, being impressed by the promotional materials, and generally liking Joel Schumacher as a director (yes, Batman and Robin was awful, but he's directing some very good films like The Client, Phone Booth and The Lost Boys) And after seeing the finished product, I find myself asking why the knives are out for the film. Now, I'm not saying this is a brilliant film, because it isn't. It's rather easy to guess the plot twists, the script does tend to patronise the viewer and the final segment of the film casually abandons the central premise in favour of a more generic 'mystery' storyline. But I found quite a few things to like about the movie, such as strong performances from Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen, very stylish direction and (for most of the movie)a genuine undercurrent of tension as the events unfold. It's not going to be remembered as a highlight on the careers of anyone involved, but if you enjoyed conspiracy theory novels such as The Da Vinci Code or shows like the X-Files, you are more likely to see past the critics and enjoy this film.

Final Score 6 (which is 2x3)/10
A Great Surprise!10/10
After reading many of the reviews on here I had doubts about this movie. As I watched and the end was clearly in sight I was worried because many reviews on here said the ending was the worst part. However, in my surprised amazement it worked quite well. I liked how the movie doesn't seem to have a single plot as the movie rolls on, but I thought this is what made it great, keeping you guessing all the time.

Another great thing was the characters had very well defined personae. Each approaching the story with different views and not always doing the predictable thing.

What makes this movie even greater is the fact that it had such poor reviews because when you go to see a movie with high expectations and it doesn't live up to them it will always render a poor personal rating of the movie, but when the movie is given bad reviews or is overlooked and turns out well it seems much better.

Though the movie was quite good, it will probably have little affect on Jim Carrey's career simply because it is not his typical role and it is unlikely he will land another role like this one in a movie that is just as good.
It's a fine two-act movie. But that third act…6/10
The Number 23 reviewed by Samuel Osborn

Psychological thrillers are a tough gig. You need an ending. The build-up, the suspense, the rising action, all that squirmy paranoia, it's easy enough to build. It's the ending that's the tricky part. Films like Memento do it right; films like Fight Club, too. Their twist, the unraveled knot of anxiety that splays out in explanation and relief, comes with another bulge of knots; it leaves you breathless and troubled, disturbed if you're lucky. But without the ending, without the final flick in the nose and punch in the gut, a psycho-thriller is just a bunch of untied shoelaces.

This is the affliction born to The Number 23. It's a fine two-act movie. But that third act…with the climax all flaccid and the end a noiseless wheeze, it leaves us with that let-down feeling of something promising turned instantly to a sham. I won't give the ending away, but suffice it to say that it's summed up by the word "typical." Commonplace is the ending. And commonplace is somewhere The Number 23 has no business being.

The rest of the film is a good one; a fine looking few rolls of celluloid, in fact. Jim Carrey plays the lead, still rounding off the sharper edges of his comedy and reminding us happily of Tom Hanks' move from comedy to drama. He's a hopelessly likable actor paired gracefully with Virginia Madsen, who plays Carrey's wife and mother to his teenage son. The family lives comfortably under Agatha's (Madsen) cake shop and Walter's (Carrey) job as an animal control officer. The paranoia enters like a whisper, as feckless and unassuming as director Joel Schumacher can stand.

The famously melodramatic director is often thought of as the second-string choice for any theatrical film-making, just behind the dramatic grandmaster Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!). Schumacher revels in colors and camera tricks, over-saturating and under-saturating his images until they're hardly recognizable. The effect here is controlled, but not empty of pizazz.

The book Agatha finds (or does it find her?) when waiting for Walter outside a used bookshop is "The Number 23" by Topsy Kretts. Walter opens the novel on his day off, gorging himself on the minutiae of its hardboiled detective hero and fantasizing himself in the lead role. Schumacher indulges Walter further, fancying "The Number 23's" Detective Fingerling as a slippery-haired Mr. Carrey in a cheap suit and a dry growl. Much of the story is actually told within the novel itself, with Fingerling getting lost in the numerology surrounding the number 23 and slipping towards the inevitability of murder. Back in reality, Walter is finding uncanny resemblances between Fingerling and himself. It's as if, he once mentions, the author knows him better than he does. Agatha writes it off as an effect of good literature, but reconsiders when she finds scribbled numerology on Walter's arm one morning with the underlined words "Kill Her." He's begun to see the number everywhere. It's in his name, his social security number, his birth date, and even the day he and Agatha first met. His paranoia, once a whisper, is now a screech, and he worries for the safety of his own family.

Stop there. Just stop the film, put down your popcorn and walk away. Because that's as good as The Number 23 will get. The bouncy humor, the family drama, the rise in paranoia, the fascination in 23, it all works up until here. But it's as if Screenwriter Fernley Phillips lost the thread. It was unraveling with speed and machismo, promising to tower upwards in a great final disturbance. But instead it turned inward and ricocheted blindly backwards. Instead of opening up the throttle and letting the number have real meaning and significance, Phillips turns the plot inward and shells up the climax with a muffled grunt.

Samuel Osborn
Just because you're paranoid....7/10
9/11 2001, 9+11+2+1= 23, JFK was killed on November 22, 1963 2+2=4 and 1+9+6+3=19 and 19+4= 23, Caesar was stabbed 23 times, and so on so forth.

Whether you think it's a coincidence or not it's still pretty cool and Joel Schumacher's the Number 23 wouldn't have been half as interesting without his knowledge.

The film follows Walter (Jim Carey) as his life starts to be consumed paranoia as he claims the number 23 is haunting him. He comes to this conclusion whilst reading a book, the Number 23 which he draws parallels with the main character's upbringing and his own childhood. The only problem being, said main character a detective Fingerling kills his lovely girlfriend. As everything in the book already mirrors Walters past, why shouldn't it mirror his future also? Worried that he'll kill his wife, Walter attempts to track down the author before it's too late.

Though it's easy to throw insults at Schumacher (Batman and Robin anyone?) he is good at thrillers being at the helm of Falling Down and Phone Booth. Here he delivers again. True, the ending may be a little drawn out and may not be to everyone's taste, however Carey's performance is once again proof that the rubber faced actor can indeed, well…act. It's just a shame that with every serious performance by Carey, critics scrutinise his performance because it isn't comedy. Have they seen the Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine….people? Carey can act. And Schumacher can direct, the only problem here is the plot isn't that strong, with the twist maybe feeling a little anticlimactic. Still it's an enjoyable film and may have you looking for the number 23 yourself when you leave the cinema.
Carrey shines through, The Number 23 is a winner9/10
Isn't it funny that most of the people how had a problem with this movie and rated it badly can't explain why? And it's not just this movie, it's every bad review, everywhere. I just can't understand that. The only thing I see is people saying the ending was terrible, but not even explaining why they thought so. Weird...

So before you go and get all disappointed over the bad reviews, and ignore all of the 'OMG B3$T M0V!E EVAR!'s, here is the level-headed review you were looking for.

The bottom line is this, it was an all around good movie. It accomplished exactly what it set out to do, be an entertaining thriller. You will read all of these people talk about how it was so predictable and terrible, and yeah, if you are an avid movie goer, you will probably pick apart most of it like I did. But for the average movie goer? You'll love it.

Jim Carrey proves once again that he can pull off a serious role, just like he has before(Eternal Sunshine, Truman Show), and he really is the focus of the film. His performance makes this film possible, without it, blah. Virginia Madsen also does a great job as Carrey's wife, loving, protective, the whole sha-bang. There is also great chemistry throughout the film between Carrey, Madsen, and their 'son', Logan Lerman. This film successfully uses the entire family through the movie to a degree few movies can imitate.

And also, despite what others might say, you can feel a connection to Carrey's character, who becomes obsessed with the number 23. I doubt a number has ruined most of our lives, but there have been times everyone has been through were some weird coincidence seems to keep occurring, so Carrey's flight rings true.

When the film turns into a good murder mystery, you really get your dollars worth. Because this movie was meant to entertain. It was meant to be a popcorn flick. Not the 'Movie of the Year', and as such, it excels. Even the end of the film, when the great question is revealed, it is nice to see it all played out in front of you, and you can really start to see Carrey's inner struggle.

Some of the lines are way cheesy, and the acting by some of the supporting roles are passable at best. And there are times when Joel Schumacher reminds you of what kind of director he really is (Batman & Robin, D.C. Cab), but amazing cinematography and Carrey's performance, as well as the intriguing story/concept, pushes you past all of that.

Bottom Line: It is worth seeing on the silver screen, and unless you are way overly critical about things having to be the exact way you want them, you shouldn't be disappointed.

Because we all know that on the ride home, no matter what, you'll be adding up your phone number, or analyzing your birthday, to see if you are cursed as well.

I was born on the 23rd! Oh Noes!