THE NUMBER 23
** (out of 5)
February 23, 2007
Jim Carrey as WALTER SPARROW
Virginia Madsen as AGATHA SPARROW
Logan Lerman as ROBIN SPARROW
Danny Huston as ISAAC FRENCH
Lynn Collins as SUICIDE BLONDE
Rhona Mitra as LAURA TOLLINS
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
“The Number 23” is the perfect beer goggles movie. I know that’s an incredibly misogynistic thing to say, but it’s the best analogy that I can think of. (Actually, the best analogy that I can think of is Kevin Smith’s review of “I, Robot,” but you’ll have to rent “An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder” to hear that one.)
While I enjoyed most of the film, at least through the first hour, reaching the end of the movie was like waking up next to the coyote ugly girl the next morning. And in retrospect, while I liked the beginning at the time, seeing the end with a sober head made me realize that first part wasn’t all that good to begin with.
The movie tells the story of a humdrum animal control worker named Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) whose live is turned upside-down when his wife buys him a mysterious book called “The Number 23.” He soon discovers that not only do notorious items in history add up to the number 23 – like the numeric date for September 11, 2001 (9 + 11 + 2 + 0 + 0 +1) – but so does everything else in his life, from his social security number to his birthday. The book inspires Walter to delve deeper into obsession and insanity as he tries to unravel the mystery of the number 23.
Director Joel Schumacher, whose given us decent thrillers like “The Lost Boys” and “Flatliners” in the past, ends up with something more on line with his stinker “8mm.” And while Carrey does a decent job acting, he’s not able to save the script.
The ending to the film is where the problem is. This is nothing new for a run-of-the-mill thriller. Generally, there are a lot more good beginnings to movies out there than good endings. Films like “The Sixth Sense” and “Psycho” are pretty rare. Unfortunately, too many of them are substandard thrillers, which is where “The Number 23” lies.
Ultimately, the film weaves an incredible and mysterious web. Sparrow is caught in the middle, but when the web is unraveled, the answers are relatively mundane. To make things worse, there are cool twists and questions that are raised earlier on that are never really answered effectively. The mystical nature of the movie collapses, making the mystical elements from the beginning completely pointless in the end.
Still, I didn’t hate this movie like I probably should have. I have to admit that I am intrigued by numerology and all the mysterious meanings to the number 23. (Check them out on Wikipedia if you aren’t familiar with them.) In many ways, I was hoping for an earth-shattering film about this simple number. But then again, I wasn’t expecting much. Ultimately, my expectations were met completely.
Still, the beginning of the film and the set-up wasn’t so bad at all. If you’re seriously thinking about seeing this movie, it’s one of the few that I would recommend only if you promise to walk out 2/3 of the way through. (Ouch! There’s that pesky number again.)
If I wanted to give director Joel Schumacher more credit than he deserves, I’d say that he purposely blew the film up at the 2/3 mark just to make the film a prophecy of itself. In any respect, cut and run before the ending is revealed. Then go home and make up your own ending. I promise it’s going to make more sense and be more satisfying than anything else you’d see on screen.