"The Number 23" directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Fernley Phillips delves into one man's obsession and paranoia with the number 23. Slowly and awkwardly, the film progresses to tell a story of obsession and murder.
Walter Sparrow, Jim Carrey's character, a local dog catcher is given a book by his wife on his birthday. Agatha, played by Virgina Madsen, doesn't know the Pandora's Box she is opening. Soon Walter finds parallels between his life and the life of the character, Fingerling. He begins to see 23's everywhere. The number 23 begins to haunt his mind as he sees it in everything. His life begins to fall apart, as his past becomes realized.
The movie's style is done in two styles. Walter Sparrow's life is done in standard modern cinematic style. Clean shots, no special or distinctive angles or framing. There is nothing especially interesting about the film making, nothing that caught my attention.
The parts of "The Number 23" set in the book or are of Fingerling's life are done in film noir style. A dark and seedy feeling, it sings out pulp magazine. It draws an interesting distinction between Sparrow and Fingerling, even though Carrey plays both men. Joel Schumacher didn't blend the noir and modern styles well and cinematically speaking, it was like being in the car with a sixteen year old trying to learn to drive a stick shift. Occasionally it slips into gear but most of the time it would have been a good idea to wear a neck brace and pray for dinner time.
Jim Carrey steps away from the slapstick roles he's become famous for but he didn't make a bad decision agreeing to "The Number 23." Carrey's performance didn't fall over the cliff into melodrama, but didn't leave me awestruck either. The beginning of the movie is light hearted and and needed an actor who can pull subtle humor. As the movie progresses, the subject matter becomes progressively aphotic and nebulous. Carrey has a problem portraying the intensity necessary for a character falling into madness. In avoiding melodrama, he avoided intensity too. As I said before, he doesn’t go overboard and become unbelievable but he didn’t come to the edge either.
Virgina Madsen was fantastically sexy as Fabrizia, Fingerling’s girlfriend. Madsen lets loose and oozes femininity and gives off visible heat waves during the Fabrizia scenes. It was impressed that she didn’t half to force out the sexy it just leapt from her and to the audience. Frabrizia couldn’t save Agatha though. Agatha, Walter’s wife, doesn’t actually seem in love Walter with the depth necessary at the end of the film. She seemed like a teenaged girl trying to hold on to a relationship by faking adoration and affection. Her doe eyed bushy tailed “love” is hard to swallow.
Logan Lerman plays Robin Sparrow, Walter and Agatha’s son. Robin feeds off his father’s madness starts to see 23 everwhere. Lerman is great at working himself up into a restrained excitement with out becoming a hyper mess. Logan Lerman’s performance is by far the most consistant in “The Number 23.”
The best character is Ned. When you meet Ned you won’t like him but when you get to know him, you’ll think he rocks too!
“The Number 23”’s script is a mess. Fernley Phillips’s characters are unbelievable, inconsistent and downright odd. Nearly everything in the movie revolves around the number 23. Yet there is an important span of time in the movie that is only 13 years. Why go through all the trouble to make everything relevant to 23 just to make it fall apart at one of the most important part. There is also a big gaping hole at the end. Near the end of the movie, the guy who gets the boxes (will make perfect sense) says something that makes no sense and is never explained. I had serious problems with how Agatha was written. She is too absolute, with no doubts about her husband at all. If I learned what she learned, I may be a little bit doubtful about my husband. He named the son Robin Sparrow; birdie bird. Why not just be more overt and call him Blue Jay Bird Face Man Head Feathers MacGillacutty. Phillips also includes mystical aspects or just refuses to explain things that leave you scratching your head.
“The Number 23” isn’t all bad and at times is pretty fun. Still, I predict this movie will end up in the discount bin once it goes out to DVD.