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There has been a great deal of critical scorn directed at 'The Number
23', which almost made me rethink my decision to see it, despite
finding the concept very enticing, being impressed by the promotional
materials, and generally liking Joel Schumacher as a director (yes,
Batman and Robin was awful, but he's directing some very good films
like The Client, Phone Booth and The Lost Boys) And after seeing the
finished product, I find myself asking why the knives are out for the
film. Now, I'm not saying this is a brilliant film, because it isn't.
It's rather easy to guess the plot twists, the script does tend to
patronise the viewer and the final segment of the film casually
abandons the central premise in favour of a more generic 'mystery'
storyline. But I found quite a few things to like about the movie, such
as strong performances from Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen, very
stylish direction and (for most of the movie)a genuine undercurrent of
tension as the events unfold. It's not going to be remembered as a
highlight on the careers of anyone involved, but if you enjoyed
conspiracy theory novels such as The Da Vinci Code or shows like the
X-Files, you are more likely to see past the critics and enjoy this
Final Score 6 (which is 2x3)/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
9/11 2001, 9+11+2+1= 23, JFK was killed on November 22, 1963 2+2=4 and
1+9+6+3=19 and 19+4= 23, Caesar was stabbed 23 times, and so on so
Whether you think it's a coincidence or not it's still pretty cool and Joel Schumacher's the Number 23 wouldn't have been half as interesting without his knowledge.
The film follows Walter (Jim Carey) as his life starts to be consumed paranoia as he claims the number 23 is haunting him. He comes to this conclusion whilst reading a book, the Number 23 which he draws parallels with the main character's upbringing and his own childhood. The only problem being, said main character a detective Fingerling kills his lovely girlfriend. As everything in the book already mirrors Walters past, why shouldn't it mirror his future also? Worried that he'll kill his wife, Walter attempts to track down the author before it's too late.
Though it's easy to throw insults at Schumacher (Batman and Robin anyone?) he is good at thrillers being at the helm of Falling Down and Phone Booth. Here he delivers again. True, the ending may be a little drawn out and may not be to everyone's taste, however Carey's performance is once again proof that the rubber faced actor can indeed, well act. It's just a shame that with every serious performance by Carey, critics scrutinise his performance because it isn't comedy. Have they seen the Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine .people? Carey can act. And Schumacher can direct, the only problem here is the plot isn't that strong, with the twist maybe feeling a little anticlimactic. Still it's an enjoyable film and may have you looking for the number 23 yourself when you leave the cinema.
After reading many of the reviews on here I had doubts about this
movie. As I watched and the end was clearly in sight I was worried
because many reviews on here said the ending was the worst part.
However, in my surprised amazement it worked quite well. I liked how
the movie doesn't seem to have a single plot as the movie rolls on, but
I thought this is what made it great, keeping you guessing all the
Another great thing was the characters had very well defined personae. Each approaching the story with different views and not always doing the predictable thing.
What makes this movie even greater is the fact that it had such poor reviews because when you go to see a movie with high expectations and it doesn't live up to them it will always render a poor personal rating of the movie, but when the movie is given bad reviews or is overlooked and turns out well it seems much better.
Though the movie was quite good, it will probably have little affect on Jim Carrey's career simply because it is not his typical role and it is unlikely he will land another role like this one in a movie that is just as good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Number 23 reviewed by Samuel Osborn
Psychological thrillers are a tough gig. You need an ending. The build-up, the suspense, the rising action, all that squirmy paranoia, it's easy enough to build. It's the ending that's the tricky part. Films like Memento do it right; films like Fight Club, too. Their twist, the unraveled knot of anxiety that splays out in explanation and relief, comes with another bulge of knots; it leaves you breathless and troubled, disturbed if you're lucky. But without the ending, without the final flick in the nose and punch in the gut, a psycho-thriller is just a bunch of untied shoelaces.
This is the affliction born to The Number 23. It's a fine two-act movie. But that third act with the climax all flaccid and the end a noiseless wheeze, it leaves us with that let-down feeling of something promising turned instantly to a sham. I won't give the ending away, but suffice it to say that it's summed up by the word "typical." Commonplace is the ending. And commonplace is somewhere The Number 23 has no business being.
The rest of the film is a good one; a fine looking few rolls of celluloid, in fact. Jim Carrey plays the lead, still rounding off the sharper edges of his comedy and reminding us happily of Tom Hanks' move from comedy to drama. He's a hopelessly likable actor paired gracefully with Virginia Madsen, who plays Carrey's wife and mother to his teenage son. The family lives comfortably under Agatha's (Madsen) cake shop and Walter's (Carrey) job as an animal control officer. The paranoia enters like a whisper, as feckless and unassuming as director Joel Schumacher can stand.
The famously melodramatic director is often thought of as the second-string choice for any theatrical film-making, just behind the dramatic grandmaster Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!). Schumacher revels in colors and camera tricks, over-saturating and under-saturating his images until they're hardly recognizable. The effect here is controlled, but not empty of pizazz.
The book Agatha finds (or does it find her?) when waiting for Walter outside a used bookshop is "The Number 23" by Topsy Kretts. Walter opens the novel on his day off, gorging himself on the minutiae of its hardboiled detective hero and fantasizing himself in the lead role. Schumacher indulges Walter further, fancying "The Number 23's" Detective Fingerling as a slippery-haired Mr. Carrey in a cheap suit and a dry growl. Much of the story is actually told within the novel itself, with Fingerling getting lost in the numerology surrounding the number 23 and slipping towards the inevitability of murder. Back in reality, Walter is finding uncanny resemblances between Fingerling and himself. It's as if, he once mentions, the author knows him better than he does. Agatha writes it off as an effect of good literature, but reconsiders when she finds scribbled numerology on Walter's arm one morning with the underlined words "Kill Her." He's begun to see the number everywhere. It's in his name, his social security number, his birth date, and even the day he and Agatha first met. His paranoia, once a whisper, is now a screech, and he worries for the safety of his own family.
Stop there. Just stop the film, put down your popcorn and walk away. Because that's as good as The Number 23 will get. The bouncy humor, the family drama, the rise in paranoia, the fascination in 23, it all works up until here. But it's as if Screenwriter Fernley Phillips lost the thread. It was unraveling with speed and machismo, promising to tower upwards in a great final disturbance. But instead it turned inward and ricocheted blindly backwards. Instead of opening up the throttle and letting the number have real meaning and significance, Phillips turns the plot inward and shells up the climax with a muffled grunt.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Isn't it funny that most of the people how had a problem with this
movie and rated it badly can't explain why? And it's not just this
movie, it's every bad review, everywhere. I just can't understand that.
The only thing I see is people saying the ending was terrible, but not
even explaining why they thought so. Weird...
So before you go and get all disappointed over the bad reviews, and ignore all of the 'OMG B3$T M0V!E EVAR!'s, here is the level-headed review you were looking for.
The bottom line is this, it was an all around good movie. It accomplished exactly what it set out to do, be an entertaining thriller. You will read all of these people talk about how it was so predictable and terrible, and yeah, if you are an avid movie goer, you will probably pick apart most of it like I did. But for the average movie goer? You'll love it.
Jim Carrey proves once again that he can pull off a serious role, just like he has before(Eternal Sunshine, Truman Show), and he really is the focus of the film. His performance makes this film possible, without it, blah. Virginia Madsen also does a great job as Carrey's wife, loving, protective, the whole sha-bang. There is also great chemistry throughout the film between Carrey, Madsen, and their 'son', Logan Lerman. This film successfully uses the entire family through the movie to a degree few movies can imitate.
And also, despite what others might say, you can feel a connection to Carrey's character, who becomes obsessed with the number 23. I doubt a number has ruined most of our lives, but there have been times everyone has been through were some weird coincidence seems to keep occurring, so Carrey's flight rings true.
When the film turns into a good murder mystery, you really get your dollars worth. Because this movie was meant to entertain. It was meant to be a popcorn flick. Not the 'Movie of the Year', and as such, it excels. Even the end of the film, when the great question is revealed, it is nice to see it all played out in front of you, and you can really start to see Carrey's inner struggle.
Some of the lines are way cheesy, and the acting by some of the supporting roles are passable at best. And there are times when Joel Schumacher reminds you of what kind of director he really is (Batman & Robin, D.C. Cab), but amazing cinematography and Carrey's performance, as well as the intriguing story/concept, pushes you past all of that.
Bottom Line: It is worth seeing on the silver screen, and unless you are way overly critical about things having to be the exact way you want them, you shouldn't be disappointed.
Because we all know that on the ride home, no matter what, you'll be adding up your phone number, or analyzing your birthday, to see if you are cursed as well.
I was born on the 23rd! Oh Noes!
The trouble with many actors that do only a particular type of film, is
that once they go outside of their box, it's just too weird. This is
true to Jim Carrey. We've become so accustomed to his comedy flicks
that this throws us off guard. I kept waiting for him to crack jokes,
but they never came. This is a true drama/thriller that keeps you
guessing until the end.
Carrey plays a man who starts reading a book that more and more sound like it was written just for him. Then strange occurrences of the number 23 keep popping up and the story gets weirder and weirder. But trust me, stick with it--the twist is a jaw dropper.
I have to say it was a bit odd to see Carrey in the sex scenes-- I kept waiting for him to jump up and say "ssssssmokin!!!" I thought overall it was a great movie.
I went into this movie with the notion that I would be seeing another
version of the Magestic. I was completely blown away. The visuals are
stunning and once you get past Joel's use of the blurred past, you are
captivated by his use of colors and imagery. The acting is also good,
Carrey has his witty one liners which will please fans. I was
captivated and fooled which means to me that there was good acting and
I give this movie an 8/10 due to the questions left by the twists. When you see it you will realize what I am talking about but other than that I do recommend this movie to anyone who loves psychological thrillers with twist endings.
P.s. don't see this because you like Jim Carrey...see it because you like the material.
I watched this on release night and I have to say that it was awesome.
The acting is great, the camera shots are great, and the story is
great. I also loved the film noir style shots.
I feel that a majority of people posting negative comments about this movie (mostly before it was even out) are simply haters.
If you feel disappointed because this has Jim Carrey in it and it's not a comedy please do not be. Jim Carrey is an excellent actor and displays the dramatical emotion side of him very well in this movie, see also "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". But, of course, there is humor in the less dramatic parts of the movie.
I definitely recommend seeing this movie.
This movie was very well done. The acting was tight (though there are a
few scenes that fall somewhat flat, as with any movie), the script was
well written, and it is pretty spooky. This movie has great atmosphere,
and Jim Carrey DOES show that he can be a GOOD
I've never been a big fan of Virginia Madsen, but she plays her part pretty well, and is overall a credit to the film. Logan Lerman, who was excellent in Butterfly Effect, does a very good job in The Number 23, and is well on his way to becoming a big ticket actor.
I for one don't trust newspaper/television/magazine reviews of movies, because they tend to laud and tout and advertise and worship crap films with little or no story, horrible acting/directing/editing, and movies that are just plain boring as hell, even if the acting is good. They also despise/hate/put-down/trash movies that break molds on what they think an actor/director/producer SHOULD do. I think they only reason this movie is getting bad reviews is that the so-called reviewers are getting a case of diaper rash over Jim Carrey doing a non-Pet-Detecive-Almighty-Dumber-Liar movie.
If you like movies that have a plot, a storyline, good effects, great acting, excellent atmosphere, superb editing, great directing, great sound, and that is not full of itself or boring to the point of making Bridges of Madison County look like Die Hard, then go see this movie. Otherwise go stare at wet paint until it dries.
I watched this by accident. I was looking for another movie, a comedy
about a man who thinks he's a character in a novel (which turns out to
be STRANGER THAN FICTION). Comedy, Jim Carrey, I thought this had to be
it. I was wrong, and boy, am I glad I goofed.
Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a fairly ordinary-seeming man, an animal control officer whose wife Aggie (played by Virginia Madsen) happens to buy him what seems to be the only copy of a self-published novel, THE NUMBER 23. But as Walter reads the book, the story of a homicide detective named Fingerling, he finds the character reminding him of himself. As he reads of the character Fingerling's descent into obsession and madness, he becomes increasingly disturbed himself, and goes hunting for the pseudononymous author, determined to find out what it all means. The answer uncovers a dark secret involving a murder committed over a decade ago, and alters the lives of Walter and his family permanently.
I won't say more, it would give away too much, but I found this wonderfully acted, beautifully written, and altogether involving. Carrey excellently plays both Walter Sparrow and Dec. Fingerling (in scenes from the novel shown as Carrey reads it), Madsen shines as loving housewife Aggie and novel character Fabrizia, and the supporting players turn in excellent performances, particularly Lynn Collins as the novel character Suicide Blond. The photography is frequently dark and threatening, which fits the plot, the sets are marvelous, and the climax is perfect.
I hope Carrey does more serious roles. This movie proves he's not just a funny rubber face.
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