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You are here: Home > Recent > News > JCO's Review of "The Number 23"
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JCO's Review of "The Number 23"
04 Mar 2007    

By Heather Wadowski Turk (Editor/Reporter (L.A.))

Any true Carreyholic shouldn’t have been surprised by The Number 23’s opening numbers. Earning just $14.6 million in its first weekend of release, The Number 23 fell WAY short of Bruce Almighty’s almighty earnings--$67,953,330 in its first weekend alone. Audiences just can’t seem to accept the Ace Ventura funnyman in anything where he’s not talking out of his ass, though, which is a shame since 23 showcases what a talented actor Carrey truly is.

In The Number 23, Carrey reunites with Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher to tell the story of a man who becomes obsessed with a book that appears to be based on his life but ends with a murder that has yet to happen. After receiving an obscure book titled The Number 23 from his wife (Virginia Madsen) for his birthday, Walter Sparrow (Carrey) becomes increasing convinced that the book--written by a “Topsy Kretts”--is based on him. His obsession with the novel--and the number 23--eventually start to consume him, as he begins to realize the book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could have ever imagined.

The Number 23
© Christine Loss/New Line Cinema

Playing both Walter and the book’s central character, Fingerling, Carrey shines as both a troubled husband and father and a dark, mysterious detective who eventually goes from solving crimes to committing them. As Fingerling, audiences get to see yet another side of Jim Carrey--a side only briefly seen before in 1988’s The Dead Pool. Viewers won’t be able to turn away from watching Carrey portray the tattooed, paranoid and sadistic detective, and his performances is so strong that it’s almost hard to believe this is the same man who’s made a career off of comedies such as Dumb and Dumber. While Carrey may have played crazy before (The Cable Guy, anyone?), his performances usually always have a hint of dark humor to them. This time, though, there’s nothing funny about The Number 23’s villain--Fingerling is just one sick, twisted pup.

Carrey’s performance isn’t the only thing that makes The Number 23 shine, though. Schumacher’s use of light--especially in the scenes that bring pages from the book to life--is visually stunning. The contrast between Schumacher’s use of overexposure and Fingerling’s dark, black trench coat and slicked-back hair truly creates a world of its own, making it easy for viewers to identify when a scene is taking place in the real world versus the world created by The Number 23’s Topsy Kretts. Only near the end, as the line between Walter’s own life and Fingerling’s story becomes more blurred, do audiences truly question what’s real and what’s fiction.

The movie’s biggest surprise, however, has nothing to do with how convincingly Carrey can portray a killer, but with how detailed the script is for a film that runs just over 90 minutes. Not only does screenwriter Fernley Phillips fully develop two worlds during the movie’s short hour-and-a-half running time, Phillips also has enough time to go back and point out all of The Number 23’s carefully placed clues, so that viewers can leave the theater without asking “What about…?” While flashing back to retrace all of Topsy Kretts’ steps may seem a bit redundant, it’s nice to leave the theater after watching a movie with so many twists and turns without any questions and with all loose ends neatly tied up.

The Number 23
© Christine Loss/New Line Cinema

While Carrey may never break free of being pigeonholed as a comedian, those who do appreciate the funnyman as an actor and not just a comic should enjoy The Number 23. And while the movie should easily make back its budget (an estimated $30 million) in the U.S. alone, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that 23 will hardly reestablish Carrey as one of Hollywood’s $20+ million men. Hopefully, Carrey’s next film--the animated Horton Hears a Who--will get Carrey out of his box office slump and put him back where every Carreyholic knows he belongs--at No. 1.

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