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  Publicity Stills of "Number 23"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Director: Joel Schumacher
Cast: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston, Logan Lerman, Rhona Mitra, Maile Flanagan, Patricia Belcher, Lynn Collins, Mark Pellegrino, Tara Karsian
RunTime: 1 hr 35 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 29 March 2007

Soundtrack: ACCESS "THE NUMBER 23" Soundtrack Review

Synopsis :

Animal Control officer Walter Sparrow (Jim Carey) has found a book he doesn’t dare put down. By reading a mysterious novel, "The Number 23", given to him as a birthday gift by his wife, Agatha (Virgina Masden), Walter twists his once placid existence into an inferno of psychological torture that could possible lead him to his death and death of his loved ones. And all because of a number: The Number 23

The novel is a chilling murder mystery that seems to mirror Walter's life in dark and uncontrollable ways. The life of the book's main character, a brooding detective named Fingerling (also played by Jim Carey, is filled with moments that echo Walter's own history. As the world of the book starts to come alive, Walter becomes infected by the most frightening and evocative part of it: Fingerlings obsession with the hidden power of the number 23.

This obsession permeates the book and begins to control Walter. He sees the number everywhere in his own life and becomes convinced that he is damned to commit the same horrific crime as Fingerling - murder. Nightmarish fantasies come to haunt Walter concerning terrible fates about his wife as well as family friend Issac French (Danny Huston), placing him on a desperate quest to understand the mysteries of the book.

If he can unlock the power behind the number 23, he may be able to change his future.

Movie Review:

The last time director Joel Schumacher and funnyman Jim Carrey worked together 10 years ago, they gave us the disastrous Batman Forever. Call it a 10th year anniversary or something, the duo are back to give us another, well, disaster, that is destined to go down cinema history as one of the worst movies ever made.

If you add the number of alphabet letters in their two names together, it would be 23.

What? Where did that come from? Yes, we hear you asking. But this would be exactly the kind of “coincidences” (we’d think most people would term it as being contrived) that is littered throughout the 90-minute movie.

The man who was Ace “Pet Detective” Ventura gets in touch with his animal instincts again by playing an animal control officer here. His wife (played by a vulnerably beautiful Virginia Madsen) gives him a novel entitled “The Number 23” (where is the originality, people?) and the poor man starts to become deranged over the book.

We seriously have no idea why someone can go so crazy over a book, and for that matter, the number 23. Maybe we would have understood if the filmmakers put in a more little effort to tell us why.

Newcomer Fernley Phillips wrote the ridiculous screenplay that tries to engage its audience in the theme of obsession and madness. No matter how hard Carrey tries to convince us that the number 23 is driving him nuts, we couldn’t really care less.

It doesn’t help that when the truth behind the number 23 is revealed in its last 20 minutes, most of us would be scorning at the story’s nonsensicality.

The cast does attempt to look serious in the movie, but why should we be blamed for thinking that Carrey would break into a joke every now and then? Sure, the guy did a decent job portraying Andy Kaufman in the serious drama Man on the Moon (1999), but this sudden switch to playing a madman isn’t going to do much for his career.

The rest of the supporting cast which includes the reliable Madsen, the suspiciously sleazy Danny Huston (Birth, The Constant Gardener) and the underused beauty Rhona Mitra (TV’s Boston Legal and Nip/Tuck) round up the motley crew of good actors thrown into a bad movie.

To be fair, Schumacher does have an eye for style on the big screen. With the help of cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Inside Man, The Fountain), the movie does its best to impress us with its unique camerawork, framing and colours. Add Mark Stevens’ (Phone Booth, Stay Alive) edgy editing and Harry Gregson-Williams’ (Kingdom of Heaven, Déjà vu) suspenseful score, the movie is ultimately a letdown of style over substance.

When the movie goes mushy on us in its last 10 minutes, with Carrey’s tiresome and droning voiceover lecturing us on the importance of choice-making in life, it is clear that you don’t need 23 reasons why this movie is an embarrassing mess.

Movie Rating:

(A movie that tries to explore obsessions, but ends up being plain deranged)

Review by John Li


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