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The Number 23

A movie starring Jim Carrey

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Jim Carrey Once Again Proves His Acting Chops

  • Feb 10, 2008
  • by
Pros: Imaginative story line that play on the human predisposition for superstition.

Cons: Convoluted at times; poor script; less than able direction.

The Bottom Line: In the end The Number 23 is a mildly entertaining movie that lacked a cohesive script and able direction.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

We humans have a predilection for superstition; lets fact it religion is build around it and look how successful they (religious leaders) have been in controlling the masses out of fear. And fear is really all a given superstition is, fear of the unknown, or what might be fear, given a set of circumstances. Much has been written over the course of human history about the number 23; is it a force for good or evil? The movie The Number 23, staring Jim Carry and Virginia Madsen, doesn’t answer that question—it broaches it, but never answers it.

The trailers for The Number 23—as trailers are wont to do—made the movie seem intriguing with more than a touch of The Shinning, the 1980 Jack Nicholson classic, within its theatrical maw, but alas it wasn’t quite to be. While The Number 23 certainly had its moments of intrigue, they were few and far between relegating the movie to oh-that-was-it status in this reviewers mind. I almost felted cheated at the end of it all.

The Story-Line

Directed by Joel Schumacher (Falling Down, Batman Forever, 8mm) The Number 23 follows the plight of one Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey – Batman Forever, The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) after his wife of thirteen years, Agatha (Virginia Madsen – Gotham, The Hot Spot, Smith) gives him a book about the number 23 for his birthday. Walter becomes engrossed in the book to the point of obsession and delusion, setting the stage for a pretty convoluted yarn all about the number 23 and its leap from just a number to a living thing capable of good or evil intent.

My Thoughts
From the opening credits until the last, first-time screenwriter Fernley Phillips splices his weak screenplay with examples that testify to that fact that the number 23 is everywhere one cares to look. For example, Charles Manson was sentenced on April 19 (4 (fourth month) +19=23) and Ted Bundy was executed on the January 23rd that sort of thing. Most of the examples go by too fast to be readable, but I did note some mention of Hitler; after all evil cannot even be muttered without a connection to him.
The situation gets more convoluted when it comes to words; you can’t just add up the number of letters in a word, for instance you have to count each letters place in the alphabet in order to get the true count. The problem is it’s very difficult to make the connection in a movie without laying the groundwork first, especially one like The Number 23 wherein the dialog is fired in rapid blasts that are hard to understand and decipher.
So I spent most of the movie trying to make connections to the number 23 that should have already been a given if the movie had a tighter script and ore able direction. The whole number 㦃” “thing” should have been given a more indebt and clinical explanation and its connection with insanity, delusion, evil and murder. The movie fails to make these vital connections so, though the movie was visually appealing and it was acted superbly by Carrey and to a lesser extent, Madsen, the movie still left me feeling cheated.
As noted above Carrey does a masterful job with the role proving yet again that he is far more than just a comedic actor; the man has real talent and acting chops! Madsen’s performance was more stilted and non-consistent, while Logan Lerman, who portrayed Robin Sparrow, was completely forgettable. Did I mention that the delectable English actress Rhona Mitra is in this film?


In the end The Number 23 is a mildly entertaining movie that lacked a cohesive script and able direction. Slickly produced, cinematically beautiful, and masterfully acted by Jim Carrey, The Number 23ultimately failed to deliver on the promise of a believable and enthralling thriller and does nothing to shed new light on the old superstition.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More The Number 23 reviews
review by . December 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
* out of ****      If you read my review for "The Lost Boys", then you'll remember that at the end of my review, I said, "Thanks Joel Schumacher. But I still hate you." Why did I say this? Well, take a good look at "The Number 23", which is directed by Schumacher, and you'll see why. There is indeed such thing as the 23 Enigma, but that doesn't make the film any better. Rather than substance (or even style), "The Number 23" …
review by . May 11, 2010
Obsession is a dark emotion that can destroy a person's soul....
Obsession is a disease, a dark fleeting sensation that can drive one person to do things that they normally would not do, driving the individual to the brink of insanity that can destroy the person’s life and turn them into a monster. In Joel Schumacher's grim psychological noir delves deep into  the physical and mental damage of how  one man's obsession  almost  destroyed everyone he loved and cared for and how he suffers at the hands of  a decade old  …
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Great movie! I thought it was more of a thriller, I liked the twists and turns in the movie and the ending was great! I recommend this movie to any type of movie watcher!
Quick Tip by . May 11, 2010
A dark, disturbing psychological noir that raises potent and daring questions about the damage and cause of obsession.
review by . March 13, 2009
Pros: none for me     Cons: I like numbers but not these     The Bottom Line:   “I can’t walk  Cannot run  I can’t seem to hide  The place I’m looking for  Lye’s behind the door  In room twenty three”  ~Neue Regel     Five minutes into the movie The Number 23 and I’m ready to insert sharp objects under my fingernails. I’ll …
review by . August 30, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Maybe it was to be expected that Schumacher, who hasn't really made a very satisfying film since the mid 90s, would gravitate to material like this that would at least allow him some time to exercise his 'weird' directorial chops. And really, there is some potential in this as well; Carrey's dog-catcher protagonist is given a book on his birthday (which is on 2/3) called the Number 23, which deals with a sax-playing detective with a dark past who gets involved with an even darker, more sadistic …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


In Joel Schumacher's psychological thriller THE NUMBER 23, Jim Carrey takes on another dramatic role. Carrey's character is similar to his roles in THE TRUMAN SHOW and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: he portrays an average man thrust into quite extraordinary situations after a series of strange events cause him to question everything he's ever taken for granted. On his birthday, Walter Sparrow is given a mysterious and tattered book called THE NUMBER 23 by his loving wife, Agatha (Virginia Madsen). As Walter reads the book, he quickly notices its alarming similarities to his own life. Rather than stop reading, he continues, unknowingly inviting the book to take over his life. The deeper Walter gets into the plot, the more he sees himself in its protagonist, Fingerling, whom we see through highly stylized sequences in which Carrey appears as the seedy detective character. Madsen is also present in these scenes, cast as Fingerling's pain-loving girlfriend Fabrizia. As Fingerling and Fabrizia's love...
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Director: Joel Schumacher
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: February 23, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Fernley Phillips
DVD Release Date: July 24, 2007
Runtime: 1hr 37min
Studio: New Line Home Video
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