The Number 23
Jim Carrey as Walter Sparrow/Fingerling
Virginia Madsen as Agatha Sparrow/Fabrizia
Logan Lerman as Robin Sparrow
Danny Huston as Isaac French/Dr. Miles Phoenix
The Number 23 is Lavishly Produced and Takes Obsession and Paranoia Head-On… This film showcases Joel Schumacher’s ability to create a beautiful and lavish film and not shy away from obsession, paranoia and insanity. Unfortunately he just didn’t sell the concept well, and Jim Carrey didn’t do much to save it.
One of the most ridiculous and pointless of all conspiracy theory scenarios is the one depicted in the horror film The Number 23.
Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey), through a series of “coincidences”, gains possession of a little red book titled The Number 23. As he reads the book he starts to believe that the book is actually about him – too many details describe events in his own life. And that number, 23, is everywhere. He sees it on the street, the letters of his name and his social security number add up to the number 23, his birthday is on February 3rd (2nd month, 3rd day, 23!) and on it goes. Where the numbers do not fit he makes them fit by creative math, and Sparrow becomes obsessed.
In the book he is reading the lead character descends to madness and becomes a maniacal murderer, and Sparrow begins to lose his own mind and believe that it is his destiny to become a murderous monstrosity himself.
The Number 23 has obsession, madness, surprise plot twists and turns and shocking revelations. Unfortunately none are pulled off very well. Joel Schumacher (director) succeeds in creating a visually beautiful film with effective lighting, composition, sets and locations. The other elements were not successful. The primary troubles with The Number 23 are:
• Jim Carrey: I like him, he is a good actor… but he is so horribly wrong for this particular role that it just wrecks the whole thing.
• The Obsession: Yes, they point out that if you are sufficiently motivated you can make anything add up (or divide or multiply or transpose) to 23. So what? Who cares if there are 23s everywhere you look? If you want me to buy-in to the fact that this number will drive someone to madness, then you are going to have to make me believe that there is a reason why it matters. Sell it!
• The Surprise Twist: Surprise endings and plot twists are great, as long as they are handled in such a way that you are shocked and intrigued to “learn the truth”. This one was so convoluted that I found myself muttering “whatever…”
The Number 23 was highly anticipated and highly promoted, and had Jim Carrey in a decidedly non-comedy role. Therefore I will be surprised if it does not do well in the box office in the first week or two. It may even get some glowing reviews…but this will pass. The Number 23 is forgettable and ridiculous, and even those who are willing to “suspend reality” for the sake of good horror will be tested beyond their limits.