– Summary –
Director : Joel Schumacher
Cast : Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston, Rhona Mitra, Mark Pellegrino, Lynn Collins.
Year Of Release : 2007
Length : 95 Minutes
Synopsis: A suburban dog-catcher becomes obsessed with a strange book detailing the mysterious cosmic power of the number 23. Soon, he begins to have visions and dreams about his future…. past…. perhaps.
Review : Crazy stupid Jim Carrey vehicle, dealing in themes so bizarre and dull you’ll be looking for the off button about twenty minutes into this trash. Stylishly told by Schumacher, the film can’t overcome it’s diabolically weak script and illogical narrative.
Jim Carrey’s lurching career between comedic and serious actor has been quite a talking point around Hollywood for a number of years. In a similar way to Robin Williams (but with a lot less success) Carrey has tried to deviate from his usual schtick to deliver performances most would consider above his ability. Consider, then, The Number 23, a film that revolves around the synchronicity of the number 23, and the spooky relevance it has to animal welfare employee Carrey, who, upon reading a mysterious book, finds himself the main character.
Up and down director Joel Schumacher (the man behind Batman & Robin and Phone Booth, among others) directs this film with all his skill and a great eye for the cinematically unique; the unfortunate part is the story is such a let-down. Carrey delivers a performance that’s half way between the leerish mugging he’s known for, and heartfelt sincerity and depth he’s less renowned for, and his screen cohort Virginia Madsen utterly steals the show as Carreys’ wife (and vampish vixen in parts that explore the novel Carrey is reading).
The problem with The Number 23 is that it’s quite dark, almost deadeningly so, and it’s hard to empathize with characters we know little about… after all, this is first and foremost a mystery, which means that you need information about the main characters in order to form opinions about them. The “mystery” develops at a snails pace, and the resolution is convoluted to say the least, and as far as a great denouement goes, TN23 is lacking in a powerful conclusion. The “twist” is hardly that, and if you’re paying attention you’d probably guess it coming a mile away. But I again bring you back to the sheer depressing nature of the film, dealing with extreme themes that do not really make the film accessible in this format. Carrey’s ability to shoulder such material is limited at best, but he tries hard, which can only be praised.
Schumacher’s style in each of his films is different, something I am sure he likes to do, to try out different ways of bringing his vision to the screen; in this instance the film looks stunning, and the style is most definitely in keeping with the storyline: unfortunately, it’s a little overdone at times and it eventually becomes distracting; the heightened world of the novel Carrey is reading is a parallel plot-line with his actual life: or is it?
Sure, there’s plenty to keep you guessing, but with the way the film is put together, and the staggeringly depressing visuals (no matter how well executed) ensure it’s as hard as possible for viewers to get into. The Number 23 is not scary at all; it was marketed as a scary film, but there’s no scares to be seen anywhere. It’s not really a horror film either; there’s little blood and gore except in rare, small moments. It’s a film that’s hard to categorize, although I guess one could come as close to calling it a murder mystery as possible, that would be doing the film justice in the smallest degree.
The Number 23 is visually stylish, and will sound and look amazing on any home cinema screen; but the story is so dreary that you’ll be wanting to jump from a fourth story window to end it all by the time the credits roll at the finish. Recommended for fans of Carrey only.