The Number 23 on DVD

23 the MovieThe Number 23 on DVD
By Mercurio D. Rivera

For Jim Carrey completists, his most recent movie, The Number 23, an attempted psychological thriller, arrived on DVD this past Tuesday. The DVD is chock full of impressive special features, including, deleted scenes, alternate endings, commentary by director Joel Schumacher, and three short documentaries, including one on the making of the movie. For fans of this film [Are you out there? Hello? Anybody?], it’s certainly worth picking up for the extras.

Carrey continues to stretch his acting muscles, this time playing Walter Sparrow, a dogcatcher who becomes insanely obsessed with the supernatural secrets of the number 23. Sparrow happens upon this mystery after his wife (Virginia Madsen, giving her all) gives him a dime-store detective novel in which the protagonist private dick (also played by Carrey), fixates on the number. It turns out that when Sparrow adds up (or subtracts or multiples or divides or randomly transposes) any numbers, ranging from his street address to his social security to the pairs of shoes in his wife’s closet, he arrives at …23! Eerie, huh? So what does it all mean? No one knows. Not Sparrow. Not the detective in the novel. Not even the scriptwriters apparently.

Unfortunately, the movie spends way too much of its time in the two-dimensional world of the detective novel with its cardboard, clichéd noir characters and not enough time in the real world where Sparrow slowly loses his grip on his sanity. Schumacher uses every trick at his disposal to try to make the detective story interesting, including diagonal camera shots and washed-out coloring, all to no effect. In the end it’s hard to do anything but yawn and look at your wristwatch as these dull stereotypes blather on. Worse, both the main story and the detective story are weighed down by Carrey’s incessant voiceover, explaining everything that happens along the way. But all the explanations in the world can’t bring any sense to the convoluted screenplay. The two storylines nicely converge at the end, but it’s too little, too late.

Rating: 1 star out of 4
(The missing numbers between 1 and 4? 2 and 3. Holy crap!)

One Reply to “The Number 23 on DVD”

  1. Great review! I missed this one in theaters. Perhaps you should watch it again with the director’s commentary–maybe you just didn’t get the subtle genius of Joel “Batman has nipples” Schumacher.

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