The Number 23 (2007)

February 25, 2007 at 11:52 pm Leave a comment

Dog catcher Walter Sparrow becomes obsessed with a book titled The Number 23, that uncannily resembles his own life. Walter realises that the number is a part of his very existence and he becomes increasingly paranoid when the book ends in murder.

The unlikely pairing of comic legend turned serious actor Jim Carrey and crap-mongerer turned sometimes good director Joel Schumacher is an intriguing one and the psychological thriller platform makes for a promising production. (Yes they have worked together before, but who’s really counting Batman Forever?)

However, expectations are not met. And it’s not really the fault of any of the main players. Carrey sufficiently hams up the number-related paranoia of everyman Walter Sparrow and ultimately does his best with a character that’s two dimensionally written. Likewise, Virginia Madsen turns in an adequate performance as the loving ‘stick with you no matter what’ wife, but the character is similarly underwritten. Schumacher masterminds everything nicely, adding some flavourful visual touches to the glimpses into the literary world of the titular novel, but ultimately it is the fault of first time writer Fernley Phillips that The Number 23 falls short of good.

The film’s concept is intriguing and the viewer’s curiosity is easily piqued as Sparrow begins to notice the number in every aspect of his life. But his paranoia soon becomes tiresome and the plot begins to slow in the middle, trudging towards a conclusion that won’t fail to disappoint.

There are some nice touches, like the fictitious novel itself, gorgeously played out in a film-noir setting that looks like it would have been a far better film than the one you’re watching, but ultimately Phillips’ script is too messily misdirected and poorly constructed to pull anything off.

Essentially, The Number 23 is another tiresome example of an underdeveloped plot relying too heavily on a conceited twist. Perhaps it will be enough to shock the most dim-witted of cinema-goers, but it is far from inventive.

Bafflingly, the only interesting part of the film, the number 23 itself, becomes a footnote by the end, its relevance forgotten in a painfully ambiguous manner. What’s left is a by-the-books ‘oh I wonder what’s going on, oh that’s it, what a waste of time’ affair that is unavoidably unsatisfying. But, it could be worse. At least you only have to wait two hours for this disappointing conclusion, viewers of Lost have to wait years.

Pictures: Top Right: Jim instantly regretted entering Britney Spears’ bedroom, Bottom Left: Jim was impressed by Britney Spears’ new wig (yes, we’re so topical here at the attic)

Director: Joel Schumacher

Written by: Fernley Phillips

Starring: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Danny Huston

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Entry filed under: Reviews.

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