Classic Film Review: The Number 23 (2007)

‘A poor film which probably isn’t too annoyed about its 8% score on Rotten Tomatoes’

ThrowBack Thursday:

The Number 23, 2007

Directed by: Joel Schumacher

Starring: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston


Back in 2007 Jim Carrey and Joel Schumacher joined forces once again to bring us The Number 23; a film about a man’s obsession with the number 23 after finding an unpublished novel detailing a man’s life of obsession, murder and insanity over the number 23 invading his life. The author’s life is soon shown to mirror Walter’s (Jim Carrey, Batman Forever) life and Walter soon succumbs to the number 23’s power and his obsession grows, in the same pattern that Topsy Kretts’ (yes, they’re clever enough to name the author a rearranged version of the name Top Secrets) journey did in the novel.

I remember watching this film upon its release and began looking for the number 23 in places (I found it was on my then bank account pin, my driving license and in a few other places) and then I looked into where 23 appears in the world outside of the references in the film and it is quite fascinating how often it appears and how easy it is found in life. It’s a silly phenomenon but has some serious intrigue if you look into it more closely. However, The Number 23 doesn’t capture any of this fascination in its film.

The Number 23 is boring, bland and uninteresting, with the characters not very well written and the phenomenon of the number 23 coming onto them very quickly (after Jim Carrey believes in it and places a few facts, his son, who is clearly over 12 despite his mum and dad only meeting 13 years ago, soon jumps on board with a few facts of his own despite only just hearing of this, and soon becomes wrapped up in it without really knowing why). At one point Joel Schumacher must have been quite a well respected director to be handed the keys to the Batman franchise after two very successful films, but this is the fourth time Joel Schumacher has featured on this website and three of them, this included, have been rated two-stars or lower (Flatliners is his highest I’ve given at three-stars).

The acting is poor, the dramatic twist reveal is poor and even the way they tell the story through the book is poor. Jim Carrey reads it aloud and we cut to an alternate world where Jim Carrey plays Fingerling, the main character from the book, because a line of dialogue in the book told him to visualise that he was the character. It would have worked so much better if these flashbacks, which were so poorly done anyway, used another actor to portray the characters; it would have created a bit more of a separation between Fingerling and Walter and would allow it to be a bit more shocking when he eventually succumbs to the number’s madness. Instead we basically watch Jim Carrey twice turns insane and it can become a bit confusing, especially with the poor lighting in certain scenes, working out which world is real and which is being told from the book.

A lot of this film is ‘as if’, and that’s down to poor storytelling (not Schumacher’s first film to receive a basement award for storytelling) as it hops into the chaotic world of the number’s conspiracy rather suddenly, without building up anything. And it also utilises a dog quite a lot throughout the film which is laughably bad when all is revealed. A poor film which probably isn’t too annoyed about its 8% score on Rotten Tomatoes.


Personal: *     Acting: * *     Writing: *     Presentation: * *

Overall Rating: * ½


What film should I review for next week’s ThrowBack Thursday? Leave your comments down below.

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