The Number 23 review by Rosie

The Number 23

This is probably something I shouldnt put in writing, as it may come back to haunt me one day during the trial, but Im serious: if I ever see Joel Schumacher going up a steep set of stairs right in front of me, I am going to wind up and punch that guy right in the bulls-eye as hard as I can.

Aggressive? Perhaps. Excessive? No way. If anything Id say its right-freaking Christian of me to let him off so easy. Even setting aside the increasingly abysmal parade of movies he has grand-marshaled through American pop culture in the last decade or so, just the fact that he almost single-handedly negated and destroyed everything good about the entire Batman franchise and legacy in only two tries, no less is fuel enough to feed my lifetime vendetta against this impenitent purveyor of moron porn. The unfortunate part of all this is that, I must admit, he hasnt always been so bad. In fact, in looking over the chronology of films on his IMDB page, I cant help but wonder if its possible that perhaps he suffered some sort of mild stroke in late 1994 that left him unable to communicate subtleties, but that by then he had already established enough clout in the industry that everyone was afraid to ask him about it. Entirely just a theory, but not unimagineable, says this reporter.

But back to the Batman thing. In his first effort to kill the franchise, Schumacher brought Jim Carrey on board to play the role of supervillain, Matthew Lesko. Considering the well-deserved pounding that this $100,000,000 turd received by Americas greatest and most respected minds internet movie critics nationwide, it is hard (money) to (egos) imagine (money) what made Schumacher and Carrey think it was a good idea to reunite for an encore. Well, apparently they did. And now were all left having to deal with the fact that The Number 23 exists.

The Number 23 (a title clearly overburdened with an unnecessary first word and last digit) brings us Carrey as regular ol everyman Walter Sparrow. But Sparrow is not just a regular ol guy oh no Sparrow has a mysterious and secret past. When his regular ol everywoman wife with a different, yet equally mysterious and secret, past is drawn uncontrollably into a spooky used bookstore one night and buys a spooky used book for him, Sparrow begins to become obsessed with the similarities between the main character and himself. We watch on, borified, as Sparrow becomes obsessed with the seemingly endless connections throughout his life that can be associated with the number 23. Stuff like how his birthday is February 3rd (2/3 = 23! Aaaaaaagh!) or that the letters in his street address somehow adds up to 32, which is just 23 reversed, (Get-out-of-my-head!), and a bunch of other coincidences that I stopped listening to after an inexplicable scene with a dead/imagined/from-the-book/real character trying to explain the haunting pervasiveness of the number caused my brain to start eating itself.

Basically the only real problems I had with this movie were the acting, directing, writing and general concept. As far as the acting goes, Im not really sure who to hold responsible for this. Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen do have to bear some of the responsibility for at least being complicit in the plot to bring these awful characters to life. But, given the dialogue they had to work with, Im not sure if there is an actor alive who could have breathed believability into these characters. (The kid who played their son, though, did just plain suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.)

With the directing and writing, the major problem was just a relentless battering of blunt details that pretty quickly killed the possibility of keeping any mystery or intrigue involved regarding the mystical powers of the number. If they wanted to be clever and try to weave 23s into the fabric of all the scenes, like on the license plates of cars, thats great. But when you put them on the license plate of every single car of every single character in the movie, and make sure to get an otherwise unnecessary close-up, frame-centered shot of every one of them and hold it for a few extra seconds to make sure every peanut-brained Cavemen fan in the room gets it, that just gets embarrassing. I can just imagine Joel Schumachers kids, getting all excited on Easter morning when dad called them out of bed for an Easter egg hunt, only to come running down the stairs and right into a big pile of Easter eggs in the middle of the hallway, with gigantic neon arrows pointing at them from all sides, and Schumacher yelling in their faces, LOOK! Easter eggs! Its Easter eggs right there! There are the Easter eggs! Right there, see? EGGS!

Which brings me to the general concept. I mention this because, even though everything else about this movie was predictable from the ads (bad acting, not worth watching even at the request of a superhot new girlfriend, general aroma of tooth decay while it is playing, etc.), the one potentially intriguing selling point remained the inherently interesting nature of these kinds of supernatural, secret-society, hidden codes, DaVinci Code-type stories. Even knowing I would probably regret it, the curiosity to see what the details were about this particular theory of numerology was enough to suck me into giving this movie a chance. Guess what? I regret it. The whole theory of the number 23, as outlined in this movie, is completely arbitrary, incoherent and pointless. Basically it seemed like the plan was (1) choose a number at random, in this case 23, (2) make a list of a whole bunch of random ways that number can be associated with the Bible, famous world leaders, and historical events, and (3) sell it with enough speed and enthusiasm to gloss over the fact that theres no substance to any of it. I can do that right now, how about the number 4? There are 4 gospels in the New Testament. There are 4 syllables in the names of Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, George Washington, Kofi Annan, Hugo Chavez, Ronald Reagan, Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, L. Ron Hubbard, Spongebob Squarepants and Winston Churchill. And if you lay out all the digits of 9/11/2001 in a subtraction problem (9-1-1-2-0-0-1=) the answer is 4! Go ahead, try your own! You can be a gawt-danged prophet and brilliant screenwriter!

(But, Rosie, you say: Even if I can make up a magical number, how can I weave it into the details of a clever screenplay? For I am just an average Best Buy customer service representative, and surely I could not understand the complex artistry of a James Patterson or Dean Koontz could I? With a little effort, friend, I believe that you too could aspire to write a screenplay of this quality. If you dont believe how easy it is to weave a number like twenty-three into everything, count up the words in this sentence. That feat of wizardry took me about thirty seconds to put together, and then I just did it again here in this sentence.)

Bottom line, this movie started out awful and got progressively worse throughout. During the climactic final conversation between Carrey and Madsen, I found myself literally rolling my head back and groaning involuntarily. There were at least three points in this movie where I had to actually get up and mute the volume on my TV to give my brain a rest from the agonizing dialogue, and at one point in the notes I was making for this review I wrote the following passage: Im not even paying attention anymore. Its somewhere in the middle of the movie and I have spent the last several minutes reading an NBA preview of the Charlotte Bobcats on ESPN.com. It has been both more interesting and way scarier (that teams gonna suck).

If I were you, dear reader, Id avoid this movie at all cost. And if I were you, Mr. Schumacher, Id take the elevator.


1 out of 10 Jackasses
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