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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Number 23

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Judy Thorburn

The Number 23

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"THE NUMBER 23" - DOESN'T ADD UP TO SATISFYING THRILLER

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

I really liked the coming attraction trailers for The Number 23. My interest was peaked and I couldn’t wait to see the film. Yet, when it came to watching it in its entirety at 95 minutes, it was, to put it mildly, a letdown. I suppose if you are a mathematician, or more specifically, into numerology you will have a field day as the idea of the number 23 popping up everywhere in various computations would be right up your alley. That’s an interesting element, but not enough to hold it all together.

Audiences already know that Jim Carrey can act. He proved that he had more to offer than his wild and crazy comedic antics with excellent dramatic work in the Truman Show, The Magestic, and up to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. However, he doesn’t quite make the grade in the Number 23 by delivering an overacted performance. If I were to rate him on sex appeal alone, that would be another story since he sure looks hot as the longer haired sweaty, but sexy character from the pages of a novel.

Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, an Animal Control officer, first introduced on the scene after being called to catch a dog that bites him on the arm before getting away. It’s Sparrow’s 32nd birthday and his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen) on her way home from work (she owns a cake shop- not that that figures into anything) is somehow drawn to buy a used book called The Number 23 written by someone named Topsy Kretts (a play on the words top secrets- how cute!) for her husband as a gift. Walter starts reading, and little by little he becomes unnerved that he can’t help but identify with the story and its main character, a detective named Fingerling that have strange similarities to his life. Voice over narrations by Carrey give insight into what’s going on in his head as the film starts to unravel a pulp fiction style murder mystery by flipping from the book’s pages which come to life in fantasy sequences, and back to Sparrows real life with his family. Soon the book and the same obsession with the number 23 as its main character, begins to rule the life of this ordinary man. As a result he becomes unglued. He can’t get away from that number. It seems to part of everything: the human body’s 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent), letters in names, historical dates, the time on his bedside clock, signage; you name it, it’s everywhere.

Carrey and Madsen play two parts in this scenario. Carrey is regular guy Sparrow and he also sees himself as the novel’s tattooed, saxophone-playing detective Fingerling while Madsen, as his wife is also depicted as the gumshoe’s bombshell girlfriend Fabrizia in a revealing negligee and raven-haired Cleopatra style wig, with whom Fingerling engages in some kinky sex. Unable to tear away from the book, Sparrow can’t rid himself of the belief that the parallels reflect something awful that happened in his life and is about to take an even worse turn, a destiny, controlled by the number 23 - where evil must lurk.

Before seeing the movie, I thought the story would be a variation of the recent, more intelligible, and far superior, Stranger than Fiction. But no, the Number 23 goes off in another darker more convoluted direction and is burdened by implausible contrivances and an incoherent narrative. There are hints of supernatural forces at work such as Sparrow’s recurring odd encounters with the pooch named Ned who shows up now and then at opportune times and then winds up running to the grave of someone who ties into the story. A Guardian of the Dead he is. As if that matters much. No, don’t expect the Devil’s son, Damian to make an appearance. It is all a bunch of hogwash and doesn’t make much sense. That mutt isn’t the only thing that doesn’t add up (no pun intended). You would think with Sparrow slowly behaving like an illogical nutjob, his wife and son would react accordingly. The actions of Sparrow’s supportive wife and son are sooooo disbelievable, to say the least. Are we to think that married for over 17 years to this man, his wife has no clue to his past? His teenage son Robin (Logan Lerman) well, he thinks his father is on to something really cool. Come on now! Then there is Danny Huston in a hapless role as Agatha’s friend, Dr. Miles Phoenix. More of his underdeveloped role, a source of jealously, must have been left on the cutting room floor.

I want to believe that writer Fernley Phillips had a worthwhile story hidden somewhere in his screenplay. So, maybe director Joel Schumacher should be blamed for running away with his own twisted vision. If he wanted to be taken seriously it didn’t work. As a psychological thriller, the psycho part is right, but there are very little thrills, if any. The best I can say is The Number 23 is stylishly filmed with some clever CGI enhanced visuals that create a surreal, dreamy look when called for. Other than that, The Number 23 is a murky, disposable piece of forgettable cinema. Remove the three, and we are left with the number 2 (do I have to spell it out?). That just about sums it up.

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