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3.4 out of 5 stars111
3.4 out of 5 stars
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This is an entertaining slice of hokum from Jim Carrey and director Joel Schumacher. Carrey plays an ordinary boke who happens across a book. Whoever wrote the book seems to know an awful lot about Carrey's life, and he soon becomes obsessed with the paranoid idea that the book is about him. The book centres on a character (also played by Carrey) who is so obsessed with a number - 23 - that it leads him to murder. Carrey soon becomes similarly obsessed, managing to translate everything in life to the number 23. We follow him as he slowly descends into paranoid loopiness and struggles to find reality.

It's a film with the odd twist and turn, but nothing too surprising. It hinges on Carrey, and he turns in a pretty good performance. I like Carrey best when he is playing it straight, and this blend of everyman and nutcase suits him to a tee. He is the best thing about the film by a mile. The plot has a few holes in it, and those with overly logical minds will find fault with a few things, such as the obsession with 23. Why not continue to add the digits to get 5, or multiply them to get 6, thus reducing it to a single digit and reaching the logical conclusion of the number game? It makes no sense to just stop at 23, but then I suppose that sort of irrationality by definition is nonsensical.

It's a decent and watchable thriller worth 4 stars right up to the end, where it just falls apart a bit. The director takes too long over it, tacking on scene after scene to tidy everything up after the main revelation. This drags the film past its natural life. I felt that just cutting it after the main revelation and leaving a few questions unanswered and ambiguous would have made it a much stronger film. As it is, the last 10 minutes really drag. SO another star lost for that, making it 3 in total. Actually I was torn between 2-3 stars...
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on 2 August 2007
Jim Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a man whose surburban wife-'n'-teenage-kid life begins to unravel when he comes into contact with a mysterious book which carries the title of the film: Number 23. The tatty, self-published novel triggers a feverish numerological obsession in Sparrow, who begins to see associations with the number everywhere he looks. The more he reads, the more he becomes drawn into the gloomy, seedy world of the book's author, with whom Sparrow identifies heavily. Moreover, it becomes apparent that the book's author is not just an author of a disturbing book, but that he or she was involved in a grizzly crime.

The film culminates in a confusing whodunnit/goose-chase. I've seen the 'unexpected twist' of who the culprit is so many times in other recent films that I remember commenting on it before having seen Number 23. If that's a spoiler, then the film-making studios are to blame for overusing this particular trendy theme to a ludicrous degree. I can't imagine I'm the only one who thought "not again!"

I find numerology to be laughable nonsense, but moments in this film left me with genuine unease as Sparrow continued his downwards mental spiral in pursuit of the number. There are some splendid pieces of camera work and general cinema wizardry in this film, particularly the clever juxtapositions of Sparrow's bright and orderly life and the shadowy, grimy world that the book reveals to him. There is an element of style over substance in Number 23, though. It never grounds itself long enough to become, if not believable, than at least a world in which the viewer can become immersed.

Carrey has come a long way since his Mask and Ace Ventura days. He's successfully left behind the endless aping and gurning that put a lot of people off in his early days, without sacrificing the energy and screen presence that make his material infectiously watchable. Long may the man behind the Mask continue to develop and flourish. Although he might seem like an odd choice for a noirish film like this, his performance as the character increasingly tormented by the ever-present number is just the ticket.

Good for Carrey and visuals, but generally forgettable otherwise.
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VINE VOICEon 12 August 2013
Director Joel Schumacher is known for his visual flair on a number of films (Lost boys, Flatliners for example) and here he does it again with a twisty thriller about a family man and professional animal catcher who starts to go slightly crazy after reading a book his wife gives him for his birthday.

So visually it's as stylish as one would expect from the flashy if hit and miss director.

Sadly whilst the initial first half set up is well done, this film ravels out of control plot wise, and leads to the typical Hollywood twist after twist ending.

Jim Carrey is good in the lead, doing a straight role for a change, playing a man slowly going crazy, but it's sadly only a reasonable film, and not quite the clever physiological thriller it could have been, but at least the plot is all answered in the final scenes.

If you like films like Fight club or The Machinist, this has a similar story arc, where all is not what it seems, but becomes evident in the few final scenes and whilst not as good as those is worth a watch.
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on 12 September 2010
This film was clearly done at a time when Carey was still getting used to not playing it for laughs. Walter, his animal catcher everyman, has a propensity for wide eyed manic stares and spaced expressions that are a millimetre away from some of his Ace Ventura gurns in places and it distracts from the serious nature of the film. Virginia Madsen is great as his wife, and Danny Houston and a very young Logan Lerman are ideal in their supporting roles. When Walter's given a seemingly self-published book by an unheard of author by his wife, she doesn't realise it's going to hook him into an obsession with a supposed sinister meaning of the number 23 and an obsession with working out how it affects his own life.
The book is portrayed through some very effective and nicely stylised noirish scenes, and director Joel Schumaker shoots some astonishingly visually gorgeous 'childhood' scenes, before moving on to harder edged noir for the scenes between the book's detective 'Fingerling' and the many mysterious women in the novel. Fingerling is also played by Carey with heavy duty dark noirish mystery and his tattooed, hard staring detective is a more fascinating character than his slightly weak everyman. His Walter's descent into obsession is characterised mostly by staring and expecting other people to see his point - he never goes truly bananas. Furthermore the plot raises lots of fascinating implications about vast historic events being affected by the number 23, but then drops them all like a hot potato to concentrate purely on Walter's far smaller story. This feels like a peculiar move and a bit of a waste of potential. Nevertheless, confusion and paranoia are thrown around like rice at a wedding, and when the conclusion comes it's a clever and satisfying piece that makes sense with the rest of the script. It also has a nicely handled ending caveat. In all it's a fascinating (but never quite amazing) little conspiracy thriller that misses some bigger plotlines in order to concentrate on a small-scale suspense tale, and does it fairly well.
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on 16 July 2007
I have to admit, my expectation's were pretty low for this flick.The reviews have been pretty scathing, and as it's director was Joel Schumacher, who brought us the pretty lamentable 'Batman And Robin' and '8mm', I really had my reservations. Well what a surprise, 'The Number 23' turned out to be quite an engaging thriller with a pretty smart script.

Jim Carey stars as Walter Sparrow, who on his birthday is bought a book which soon takes over his life ,as becomes obsessed by the similarities the number 23 encompasses.Carey is an actor I have a lot of time for, not only in comedy but time and time again in more 'demanding' roles such as 'Man On The Moon', 'The Truman Show' and 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind'.Here again he holds his own with fine support from Virginia Madsen as his wife and Logan Lerman as their son Robin.

The twist is very clever and fairly believable and rounds of what was a very decent and quite unfairly criticised film.
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on 21 April 2008
the number 23 was released in 2007 to mixwed reviews,the reviews here are very mixed also with more of a negative feel prevailing though,i feel this film has a good idea,a good enough twist but is a little convoluted for its own good and tries to hard and as another reviewer stated wants to be like the butterfly effect but as a whole jim carrey isnt quite believable enough.
The film deals with a man who reads a book and finds similarities between himself and the character in the book and as the character in the book becomes obsessed with the number 23 and how it can be related to world events and tragedy the man reading it starts to become obsessed with the number also.
The film treads down dark avenues andjim carrey does his part well enough but there is some overacting from his supporting cast plus carrey playing the guy in the book is very unrealistic,double the carrey then but only one that works.
Towards the end of the film there is too much explaining,they wont let us figure anything out almost,we must be spoon fed it,the start of the movie is good but loses itself in the latter stages,watcable but nothing more,2 stars.
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on 1 October 2009
Not a great film. The directing seems somehow off. Reasonably okay to watch, though.

What made it much worse was the fact that Amazon's main review, by Trinie Dalton, completely and utterly (in the first line) gave away the story! Unbelievable!!
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on 11 December 2010
"Number 23" is a thriller starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen.

The plot revolves around a certain Walter Sparrow, who finds out that a novel his wife has given him as a birthday present seems to be about his own life! Unfortunately, the main character of the novel is a murderer with a strange obsession with the number 23. Naturally, Sparrow also develops the same obsession. As the plot thickens, it seems that a real murderer is on the loose, and that somebody very close to Sparrow himself wrote the novel. Before he goes completely insane, Sparrow has to find the real killer, reveal the author of the mysterious novel, and get rid of his paranoid obsession with 23...

I agree with many other reviewers that "Number 23" could have been much, much better. It's not the best movie around the block. Still, it's surprisingly tolerable. Also, the concept is interesting and contains several unexpected twists and turns. At first, I was annoyed by Jim Carrey, who is really a comic actor. However, he is quite good at portraying a paranoiac - at least a Hollywood stereotype paranoiac.

My main problem with "Number 23" are the loose ends and illogical situations. I didn't understand what on earth the dog named Ned has to do with the plot! Since the murder Sparrow is investigating took place 13 years earlier, it can't possibly be the same dog. Dogs don't live that long...

However, if you can swallow these kinds of inconveniences, you might nevertheless find "Number 23" interesting.

According to Wikipedia, there actually are conspiracy theorists who believe that the number 23 has esoteric significance. It does not. THE REAL SECRET NUMBER IS 666.


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on 19 March 2008
Number 23 trys to be clever and twisty but ends up being a bit of a muddle. At first Jim Carrey seems to be playing for laughs as the inept dog catcher, but soon his character becomes much darker. The film for me had a satisfactory ending and I could follow the plot so it earns 3 stars. However I do find it amusing in some films how all of a sudden the characters have all the time in the world to pursue their new found interest, ie they don't have to go to work anymore, or do follow any of the routines of daily life. Simply because these get in the way of the plot.
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on 20 February 2014
Now, I enjoyed the daftness of "The Mask"; I really wanted to love "The Truman Show", but that failed at every level, vitiating a brilliant idea. Three, four, five other Jim Carrey movies I've either fallen asleep in or turned off because, like most Tarrantino movies, they show nothing to appeal to me (and I haven't reviewed them, apart from one I found truly obscene).

This now, from the director of the stunningly, searingly good "8mm", but not much else terribly memorable, held my attention throughout. Yes, there are plot holes aplenty, but the mixing of reality and the alternative is entertaining, and there are enough twists- if somewhat contrived- towards the end, to keep this an enticing, if not actually exciting movie. Many threads are similar to those in the good old "Hammer House of Horror" stable, and "Shutter island" has some similar aspects, but this film stands up for itself as an intriguing, passably exciting movie, and I forgot it was Jim Carrey; he seems to have found an "on" setting, rather than his usual "high".

For me, this has been very unfairly reviewed. It's not a five star movie for me, but deserves a good solid four.

Good movie, one I'll see again quite soon.
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