The Number 23
Director: Joel Schumacher (Phonebooth, Batman Forever, Flatliners, Lost Boys)
Writer: Fernley Phillips
Producers: Tripp Vinson, Beau Flynn, Fernley Phillips
Starring: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Danny Huston, Rhona Mitra, Logan Lerman
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 95 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

reviewed by Andrew James
     The first question on everyone's mind regarding The Number 23, is how does Jim Carrey fare in a dramatic role? I can honestly say fairly well. His recently grown-out hair and lanky frame prove to have a genuine creepiness to it. He works extremely well with co-stars Virginia Madsen and Logan Lerman to provide some obvious chemistry. Having said that, I think there are a number of actors that could've filled these shoes far more effectively. I still see Carrey as the lovable characters from Dumb & Dumber or Ace Ventura. Maybe we always will since it is unavoidable.

      The Number 23 is a look into the world of a paranoid man who is slowly letting the paranoia drive him insane. The source of this paranoia is a book purchased for him by his wife (played by Madsen). The book is the story of a private detective who is also slowly driven insane by the number 23. Walter (Carrey) finds several eerie connections between himself and the main character in the book. The story in the book is delivered to us by surreal sequences in which Carrey and Madsen (as well as other characters in the main story) play the leads. Here is where Carrey really delivers his creepy, indeed chilling, side.

      The more I reflect on this movie, the more I kind of like it. This isn't to say I don't have some issues with a few things. For one, the number 23 itself. It's supposed to have this odd, superstitious connection to the world and its horrible events (i.e. 9/11/2001; 9+1+1+2+0+0+1 = 23 or Hiroshima 8/6/45 8+6+4+5 = 23 - and the examples continue on and on). At first glance, this number does seem to be more than just a coincidence, but as the movie wears on, the straws that are grasped at to reach 23 in almost everything seems to take more than a few leaps in logic. So ignoring the whole 23 thing, which frankly got tiresome by the end, we're left with what is actually a pretty decent thriller.

      What really worked for me was the interesting directing style Schumacher has emplyed here. It is very atypical of him and somethign I was shocked to see. He's obviously hired a different kind of cinematographer to create some very artsy and surreal looking imagery. There's use of overexposure, dark, mysterious angles and almost the look of a painting in several shots. In short, pretty much the entire feature is nice to look at.

      It takes FOREVER to get anywhere in this movie. Once something is revealed, Schumacher takes about 10 to 20 minutes explaining it all bit by bit. Though it looks interesting and cool, it's unnecessary and tedious. I kept thinking to myself, "OK, I got it, now let's move on with the story." Then there would be several more minutes of unnecessary exposition.

      Maybe it's because I was tired or had my mind on other things (like Sunday night's Oscars), but my guard was let down and I honestly didn't see the end coming. I had visions of a stupid, cop-out ending that would make this whole movie fail miserably; but I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I've since read that others felt the whole thing was obvious and telegraphed, but I didn't find it to be that at all (nor did the people I viewed the film with).

      To break it down, it's a longer than necessary film that holds plenty of interest throughout. It's got some dialogue and scripting issues, but fans of a unique, bordering on overplay, style of cinematography film be delighted. Also, anyone remotely interested in Jim Carrey would do well to see what he can do in a dramatic, dark role. I have to admit it was a lot of fun to watch him work and see what he came up with. Although it's not perfect, it's above average fare for this time of year.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site
FLIXSTER PROFILE for The Number 23