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Movie Review: The Number 23

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Written by Hombre Divertido 

Sometimes you can appreciate a bad film simply for the effort. For example: Hudson Hawk, was bad, but you had to appreciate the effort put into doing something completely different.  Not so for The Number 23.

Jim Carrey plays a dogcatcher who becomes obsessed with a book entitled The Number 23. Now, had we been given a story about a man who becomes obsessed with the number 23, as we are lead to believe by the trailers, we might have had something worth investing our time in. In other words: They should have given us the story in the book that our hero becomes obsessed with, rather than his obsession with said story. Still with me? Well, the movie is more convoluted than this paragraph.

Like a joke that takes too long to get to what should be a good punchline, The Number 23 plods along to a conclusion that had potential, yet falls flat due to the lengthy build-up. At 97 minutes, no movie should seem too long, but the set-up is simply not worth the pay-off.

Directed by Joel Schumacher, the film has an interesting look, and that in itself makes it entertaining to watch for a while. The performances are adequate, but Carrey plays it too cute during the far-too-brief establishment of his character, which makes his transition into Jack Nicholson from The Shining too much of a stretch for this thespian. The talented Virginia Madsen is underutilized in this film, and in the industry as a whole, playing Carrey’s wife. What we do get to see of her is the most enjoyable aspect of this film, as her versatility in dual roles serves to hold our attention more than any other aspect of this film. It is a little unclear if the role of the son is poorly written by Fernley Phillips or acted by Logan Lerman. We can probably thank them both for the annoying distraction.

So, Schumacher attempts to tell us not only the story of a family dealing with the patriarch’s obsession with a book and its similarities to his own life, but the story of the book as well, using dual characterizations to weave the two stories together. A reasonable endeavor poorly executed, and too daunting of a task to pull of in 97 minutes. He should have just stuck with an interesting story of how an obsession with the number 23 impacts the life of a man and his family. Might have been better, could not have been worse.

Just too much wasted opportunity here. Good cast, good concept, good film style.

Recommendation: Don’t pay money for this bomb. Wait! That sentence contains 23 letters! AAAAAAHHHHH! Yeah, didn’t really work in the movie either.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
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