Saturday, 26 September 2020
The Number 23
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 27 February 2007 00:00
Yawn! I haven’t had this good a nap at the movies since, well, since The Good Shepherd and that wasn’t so long ago. To be fair, The Number 23 kept me prying my eyes open on the basis that if I fell asleep I would miss a prime opportunity to poke fun at just how ridiculous it was. My friend said afterwards that the best thing about this movie was her popcorn. I would have to agree, and I didn’t even have any popcorn!

Jim Carrey stars in this so-called conspiracy thriller (or is it a comedy?) as a dogcatcher named Walter Sparrow who suffers from a dog bite on his birthday. I still don’t get why the dog bite is so important, but the series of events leads to Walter’s wife (Virginia Madsen) purchasing a shoddy-looking paperback for him as a gift. The book is called “The Number 23: A Novel of Obsession” by Topsy Kretts. Get it? Indeed. Yes, the entire movie is filled with ridiculous little jokes like this that will have you rolling your eyes at the idiocy of it all.

Sparrow immediately dives into the book about a gumshoe called Fingerling who is plagued by a curse of the number 23. When I say this I have an amusing picture in my mind of a large, foam Number 23, like you might see on Sesame Street, lurking in an alleyway. The number haunts him and he finds it in everything from names and historical dates, to the number of chromosomes in DNA (23 from each parent). Sparrow begins to identify more and more with this Fingerling character and becomes obsessed with the similarities between the book and his own life. Although “obsessed” might be too strong a word, since it seems to take him weeks to wade through the Coles Notes sized novel.

He begins making wild and incredibly random associations to the number such as “September 11, 2001 adds up to 23” or “Shakespeare was born and died on April 23rd” or “The Hiroshima Bomb dropped at 8:15” which equals 23. All very interesting facts, I’m sure, except that none of them mean anything! And this movie brings us no closer to finding significance in coincidence. There are some loose attempts at tying the number to forces of evil, but the film quickly gives up on trying to find meaning in the schlock and falls back on a silly story that, in the end, has nothing to do with numbers.
The only saving grace this film might boast is the highly stylized interludes that take place in the book. The world of Detective Fingerling boasts a cartoony film-noir style reminiscent of Sin City. In this alternate reality Jim Carrey sports greasy long hair, tattoos, and holds a saxophone for no apparent reason since he never actually plays it. Virginia Madsen is nearly unrecognizable as Fabrizia, a sultry vixen with a long black wig who has a penchant for kinky sex. But these artsy moments are few and far between and overall they don’t work well with the rest of the film.

I’ve spent the last hour trying to find some significant tie between my name and the number 23 and have come up with nothing. The best advice I can give you is that there are probably 23 other films playing that are better than this one. I give The Number 23 2 Stars out of 10.