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The Number 23 Review
by Doom and Generalissimo Furioso
WATCH OUT! THE NUMBER'S OUT TO GET YOU!
He needs to find a better place to write his history notes.
There are things in this world that should never be made: non-alcoholic vodka, pizza with no cheese on it, sequels to Rush Hour, anything with the words "based on a novel by Tom Clancy", and the movie Number 23. Yes, they ('they' referring to the Hollywood Illuminati who wants us to suffer through bad cinema for the rest of eternity) made this movie and yes, it is stupid beyond all comprehension. I think to describe this movie in any terms related to the act of moviemaking would be an insult to the industry as whole, as this is no movie, but rather some sort of moving cacophony of pictures and really bad acting. Seriously, to me, having my genitals attacked by a Taiwanese prostitute would be a more enjoyable experience than this. But The Number 23 has Jim Carrey...so there's that. Ugh, now he's one of those 'dark, tortured artistic' periods of his career. This is going to hurt.
The premise revolves around the idea that a lot of coincidences involving the number 23 is somehow scary. Newsflash: it's not. You can create a series of coincidental numerological similarities for any number. For example, my full name has 17 letters...and 17 is also the number of times I banged my head against the desk while watching this. ISN'T THAT SCARY, KIDS?!?!?!!?! Robert Anton Wilson must be rolling in his grave right now. Really, I think they've run out of things to make scary. Old men, masked men, puppets, toy dolls, ghosts, video games, cell phones, bongs...and now a number. What's left after showing a guy afraid of a constantly reappearing number? Sock puppets? The little palm trees you put in turtle enclosures? A possessed bottle of merlot? A sugar glider from Hell? It needs to stop at some point, people. We've literally reached the bottom of the barrel after less than 100 years of cinema existing. There's no new ideas left, at least not using the conceit of American horror/thriller.
Starting off this exciting caper of a film, Jim Carrey's character (Walter Sparrow...who had the gall to name his son "Robin Sparrow") sits in his truck/van thingy debating whether or not to go catch a rabid dog. GET IT, HE'S A DOG CATCHER! HUH? HUH? Anyway, he runs into a particular hound that seems to be evil (all it needed to do was shift its eyes so we could be sure). After chasing it into an alley, he started to talk to the dog and the dog bites him. Then Carrey gets all moody and complains about how if he weren't such a dick he wouldn't be where he is (the same thing most dumb people say when they're in a bad place). The Number 23 then gets into a supposed exposition where he's all depressed and moody because his job sucks. Anyway, then some weird stuff happens and film styles like noir and psychological thriller are imitated to a degree where imitation is being too lenient of a word to use (it's more like sheer hackery to be honest). But what else is to be expected from Joel Schumacher of Phone Booth and Phantom of the Opera fame. Or should I say notoriety?
The ball gets rolling when he finds a book for his birthday at the book store. It's one of those books you've never heard of before, ones bearing no publishing date or any indication of it ever being mass-released. The print equivalent of those "How to pass a drug test" PDFs you find online. This book follows a detective named Fingerling who gets into all sorts of trouble involving a woman obsessed with the number 23, a professor, and lots of other shit oddly paralleling Jim Carrey's life. SPOILER: HE IS FINGERLING. I knew it from the start. You know how I know? In the Fingerling segments, Jim Carrey (aka the Walter Sparrow character) plays the Fingerling character. And the girl Fingerling murders is played by Virginia Madsen, aka Walter Sparrow's wife. DUN DUN DUN. See, didn't take a fucking genius in deductive reasoning at all! Carrey goes crazy as a result of reading the book (from curious about the coincidences outlined in the book to total sociopath in about 7 minutes), then uncovers things, goes to a hotel room wallpapered in the number 23... And then it turns out HE wrote the book, and everything that happened in it was real. Because the first thing I do after attempting to kill myself and murder someone is write a book about it while in a psych ward. Carrey confesses to the crime and the film ends with him in jail. What a...happy ending?
So it's another movie where the guy turns out to be crazy. And amnesiac. I guess it qualifies as the 'twist' for the increasingly twist-centric modern horror thriller films. In fact, the insanity part makes it so you don't even need to factor in the hilarious evilosity of the number 23; although people randomly go insane over the idea of 23, it's still merely a footnote in Carrey's murderer guy who can't remember who he murdered. I kept expecting a villainous 23 to show up and kill Carrey's kid, but it never fucking happened. The times 23 killed people were either in flashbacks or random strangers we meet for about 2 minutes before they off themselves. Walter Sparrow is just plain insane, because in no way does The Number 23 convince that a number can lead to murder. All the usage of insanity/amnesia/murderer does is show the viewer how fucking stupid Walter Sparrow's wife is. Okay, so you meet this guy, who has no memory of what he's been doing for the last couple of years, and he has a book confessing to murder something...what do you do? Fall in love with him and nurture his insanity by publishing his book anonymously in the hopes of him someday finding it again and...going crazy and realizing his past life? Help bury the evidence of his murder? HER ACTIONS MAKE NO FUCKING SENSE! I guess if you assume everyone in the movie thinks leprechauns tell them to burn things it makes sense. Otherwise, the conclusion is a stupid mess masquerading as a master twist of Shamalamahackdong proportions.
Jim Carrey does his best Anne Frank impression.
In terms of scares, the scary concept is once you hear about the 23 thing, you become obsessed with it until you decide to kill yourself. So it's The Ring, only with a number instead of a videotape! The rest of the 'horror' comes from the atmosphere - meaning we get a lot of badly lit shots and the entire movie seems to take place in firebombed Dresden. I love shitty film's ability to change random suburb in Midwest #72 into one of Dante's levels of Hell. Quite amazing, wouldn't you say? The time where the atmosphere works lies in the fake noir scenes, which would be far more interesting as a feature-length production as opposed to 'dog catcher goes crazy and thinks he was a detective at some point'. The filmmakers also intended us to gasp and becomes mesmerized by the number of coincidences involved with the number 23, as well as the clever hints and clues pointing towards the inevitable conclusion. By 'clever' I mean 'stupid'. For example, the Fingerling book credits the author as 'Topsy Kretts'. Say it out loud. TOP SECRETS! GET IT?!?! Why the fuck would someone not wanting to get caught put a fucking clue in the author's pseudonym? Number 23 logic does not compute. If any of this scares you, I suggest investing in a night light because the bed bugs might swarm around you and chew off your penis. While the monster from the closet watches and masturbates heavily!
Jim Carrey anchors the film in a molasses pit of angst and disaffected craziness. That's not to say he's any good at this 'dark' role, however. He plays it like Robin Williams did during his 'dark' phase - poorly. It takes a serious actor to make the evolution from normal guy to obsessed lunatic seem natural, and for Carrey the transformation includes no longer washing his face and acting about as realistic as the Riddler in Batman Forenever. I somewhat expected him to start tossing around frozen chickens and yelling "One chicken shall survive, while the other must face the evils of Marduk! Wokkawokkawokkawokka!" Virginia Madsen, aka Sparrow's wife/the girl Fingerling murders, flounders as the screenwriter forgot to give her any material other than 'Support your crazy husband and keep him from being arrested for a murder he did commit'. She's not even hot enough to jerk off to in the noir scenes! No other actors register enough to warrant specific mention, except for maybe the little shit who plays Walter's son Robin. His role in the story angers me immensely. He actually wants to help dad in his detective adventures centered around 23. Man, at least Walter had the excuse of being an insane amnesiac.
Joel "I destroyed Batman in ways only the TV series could" Schumacher proves once again that he cannot direct horror or thriller movies worth a damn. Or any kind of movie, really. He's failed at almost every genre. War, thriller, superhero, action, musical...all he needs to do now is to fuck up a gay porn film and he's set as the world's least successful director. Then he can join Akiva Goldsman again to create the worst piece of celluloid ever. Here he fucks up the simple task of creating something moody and dark while still putting together a coherent story. He somewhat succeeded on the first two counts (Jim Carrey yells a lot and the movie's so dark you need a flashlight and several flares to see anything), but the coherent story doesn't work one bit. The plot holes and logic errors (such as why would a guy decide to touch a knife covered in blood that obviously was used to kill someone) overshadow any stylistic flourishes he tries. I will say one positive thing about The Number 23: no codpieces, nipples or huge neon lights. We take the lack of it for granted in most films, but when Joel Schumacher of all people is directing, we need to count our blessings and be thankful for whenever he doesn't gay it up to the extreme.
"I love you, crazy murderer husband!"
This 'movie' sucked so badly it led to Jim Carrey firing his agents for getting him his shitty role. I think that fact speaks volumes about the film's as of yet unparalleled shittiness. The agents who got him Fun with Dick & Jane, A Series of Unfortunate Events...and The Number 23 is the straw breaking the camel's back. Well, I guess it dashes the hopes of those wishing for a Number 24 starring little shit as Robin Sparrow, who attempts to free his imprisoned father by asking for help from his new best friend, the number 24. Prison Break meets counting numbers and sitting in your own urine.
How many drinks do I need for this to be good?: 179