Friday, November 23, 2012

REVIEW: The Number 23 (2007)

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the fact that I’m not being hunted by evil numbers, that I’m not in prison, that I don’t run into evil dogs who guard the land of the dead, and that I am done watching The Number 23.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen

Yeah, you remember this…the Jim Carrey thriller about a guy who is haunted by the constant reoccurrence of the number 23. Apt title, huh? It was Carrey's first real "serious" thriller, and for that it got a lot of press when it came out...I strongly suspect it would have been completely ignored if Carrey hadn't been in it. Otherwise this thing is just silly as hell, and full of ridiculous moments for me to make fun of, so that’s always something to rejoice about. And guess who directed it!

That’s right, Joel Schumacher made this shit. The guy who gave you bat nipples and the bat credit card made a stupid and terrible movie…I’m actually not even remotely surprised. Moving along.

It starts off with Jim Carrey in another classic comedic role…oh, wait, did I say comedic role? I meant serious thriller. So what’s his first profound, serious act in the film which separates this from his silly comedic roles in the past? He’s sitting in his truck, sees a dog go by and makes cat noises at it, which cause the dog to start going berserk…are we SURE this is a serious movie?!

Oh yeah, every great drama should start with the hero making cat noises at small dogs. That's a classic way to kick off a stirring serious movie.

We then see that he’s a dog catcher who takes his job a little too seriously as he delivers hammy speeches while chasing dogs through graveyards. I guess you have to get your kicks somehow when you’re a part of such a grave and serious profession. Wouldn’t want to let the gravity of the job of DOG CATCHER get to you, right?

OK, OK, so his job is silly…but what about his home life? He’s married to Virginia Madsen, and you have to give her credit…this is at least a better movie than either Highlander 2 or Candyman, so she’s moved up in the world since the early 90s. But given this film’s quality as is, that’s kind of like saying getting kicked in the shin with a steel toed boot isn’t as bad as your wife cheating on you with the mailman. Inconsequential and without any real upsides to the deal either way. Madsen, while the two are out on a date, finds a moldy old book called “The Number 23,” which she buys for no other reason other than to advance the story, because God knows they couldn’t figure out any other way to move this contrived crap forward.

Inexplicably, Carrey starts to read the book too, which tells the story of a guy named Fingerling who, as a child, found the dead body of his next door neighbor, and that screwed him up so much he became a super-cool detective!

Ooh, look at all that BLACK he's wearing! What a badass! What a tortured soul!

This whole thing is told in an alternate universe in which Carrey portrays Fingerling as the text of the novel is narrated over top. Fingerling goes and meets this suicidal woman who is crazy because she keeps seeing the number 23 everywhere. Which basically means she looks too far into everything and draws ridiculous conclusions from meaningless nonsense…wait; actually that sums up a lot of the first two acts of this movie. She’s played by Lynn Collins, who is a good actress, if your standards for a good actress include terrible, unbelievable emoting and lots of over the top screaming. Different strokes for different folks.

I mean this chick is nuts, man. Here’s some of her brilliant dialogue…

“Pink is my favorite color. You know what pink is? Red, 27. White, 65. 27, 65, 92. Pink has four letters – 92 divided by 4…TWENTY FUCKING THREE!”

How about…pick a new favorite color? Just a thought. You crazy nutball, you. Also, nice acting! You’re about as credible as a 13-year-old trying out for a middle school production of Mean Girls.

Well, OK. A mental institution production of Mean Girls.

Then we find out that maybe detectives aren’t qualified to give therapy to suicidal people as the woman throws herself out a window the moment Fingerling turns his back. Then later on, we see that Fingerling is such a good detective with such a sane girlfriend that they have sex at the crime scene! Totally OK!

Look at those monochrome colors and how evil they both look and how they're having sex at a crime scene...that's edgy stuff, man! Don't mess with these two!

In real life Carrey says he can really relate to this book. Really not making a stand-up case for yourself as the sane character who slowly goes crazy, buddy.

As he reads more of the book, he sees that Fingerling drives his girlfriend into the arms of another man by getting so paranoid about the number 23 that he starts counting her shoes (23 pairs, yo!) while they’re having sex. And then he’s surprised when she doesn’t want to keep on having sex. Are you kidding me, movie? Chicks love it when I talk about my paranoid obsessions! Hell, I remember last week I was hanging out with a girl and told her that I kept seeing strange visions of men in black taking away people on the street. For some reason she hasn’t returned any of my calls.

In real life, Carrey gets more and more paranoid about the number and starts dragging his wife and kid into it. Well, “real life” in the context of the movie, anyway, because in really real life the wife would take the kid and just go to a hotel while daddy works out his lapses in sanity. But here they stick around and humor him. Carrey, never one to waste an inch of his family’s piteous interest in his insanity, takes this humor and runs with it, even going so far as to draw his wife and son into his crazy schemes. Isn’t he just the perfect father? I think so.

Great familial bonding always means staking out potential serial killers. You guys who just want to go have Thanksgiving dinner with your loved ones are missing out.

So we get some stupid scenes of the son being all like, “dude, I’m 15 years old, I believe in stupid conspiracies because I can’t help it at my age (but once I get to my 30s like you, Dad, I’ll think it’s all totally retarded)!” They even go to the extent of circling every 23rd word on every 23rd page of the book, which somehow leads them to this park where a dead girl is buried. And you know, father and son bonding is at its best when you’re hunting for buried bodies in the middle of the night.

"Hey, son, point the flashlight over here!"
"Okay Dad, this is some great father-son time we're having here! Totally not scarring me for life!"

While Carrey and his son are calling the cops, apparently his wife and this doctor guy come and STEAL THE WHOLE SKELETON OUT OF THE HOLE, and disappear before Carrey comes back. Did Carrey really wander so far away from the site where they found the body that he would ENTIRELY MISS TWO PEOPLE DIGGING IT UP AND DRAGGING IT AWAY? If so, why? And what, his son is so blind and deaf he didn’t notice it either? Either these two are the STUPIDEST ASSHOLES IN THE UNIVERSE, or the movie is just a shining example of horrible writing. I’m currently weighing the two to decide which one is really true…while I’m doing that, let’s just wrap up the review.

It turns out that Carrey himself committed the murder and wrote the book The Number 23, and then repressed the murder after some brain damage and the book was published by his psychologists under a pseudonym (Topsy Kretts…Top Secrets…yeah, that’s about the level of wit this movie has).

Yup. That’s all there is to it. Totally not ANY stupid plot holes I need to talk about or elaborate on further with this. I’m done with the review. Yup. The worst parts of the movie are behind me. I am absolutely, positively DONE.






Oh, you didn’t believe that for a second. Alright, where do I start? Well, let’s just go chronologically through the whole mess, which tells Carrey’s strange backstory. Basically he saw his father kill himself when he was a kid, and so Carrey was screwed up. In college he met a hot chick who liked to be handcuffed to beds and liked her men to threaten her with knives. Because someone like that is obviously the picture of stability, Carrey was surprised when she started cheating on him. I guess he was a total moron. He got obsessed with the number 23 because of his father’s paranoia in his childhood, which further drove her away.

They apparently met at a hotel, where Carrey strangled her and then stabbed her a bunch of times, making a big mess – they don’t pay hotel maids nearly enough, you know? Carrey ran away but then the guy she was cheating on him with showed up and got arrested for the crime and sentenced to prison for life just because he touched the knife. Because it’s not like Carrey would have left ANY fingerprints or identifying marks when he stabbed a woman in the heat of passion. I mean he didn’t even have time to clean up or anything! How are the cops this stupid? Even in a Joel Schumacher film I expect at least some intelligence. They really didn’t even bother to CHECK THE CRIME SCENE for any indication that, here’s a bright idea, the bloody, violent stabbing death WASN’T committed by the guy with no blood on him at all and no signs of having struggled with anyone? Hell, even a Seth Rogen comedy like Observe and Report had more realistic cops than this! That’s how bad we’ve gotten!

"You have no blood or fingerprints anywhere else on scene, but we're arresting you and putting you away for life without trial, because that's how we do things in Schumacher world! We're the best cops!"

Oh, but it doesn’t even stop there! The movie goes lower! After that, apparently Carrey wrote the entire book The Number 23, starting it as a suicide note but then deciding to hide the last chapter (which contained the actual suicide note and confession) right before jumping out a window to try and kill himself. What sense does that make? But he survived anyway and was taken to a mental institution where he apparently recovered with, very conveniently, no memory of the horrible murder, the writing of the book or even of the girl he liked so much at all. Everything else about him was fine – he just lost the memories of all the bad stuff that had happened in recent times.

After recovering, he literally bumped into Virginia Madsen’s character RIGHT AT THE GATES OF THE MENTAL HOSPITAL, after which it is implied they started their relationship, got married and had kids…

I just love stupid is it that he meets the future love of his life right as he's walking out of a mental institution? He didn't even make it all the way out the gates yet. I guess it never came up why he was at that hospital, or that he had memory loss, or that the cops would want him for questioning after his ex-girlfriend he didn’t remember was violently stabbed and murdered? THAT MAKES NO GODDAMN BAT-SHIT SENSE AT ALL! You just crossed the line movie! You just became completely indefensible! He just goes and lives a normal life for YEARS afterward without anything triggering the memories or anyone from his past reminding him of the girl or his time at the college or anything? Losing your memory isn’t just like taking a few pieces out of a puzzle, you goddamn movie; it’s more complicated than that.

The Number 23 is just a big headache of a movie, with little logic to the story and almost no redeeming factors in any other area either. Jim Carrey tries, but the script is so bad that he doesn’t seem to know what he’s doing. Everyone else is just bland, with the exception of the “suicide blonde,” Lynn Collins, who is just terrible in brand new ways. Nothing is atmospheric or effectively done at all, and the film as a whole is just a pile of conspiracy theory shit made by a guy who thought it was a good idea to put George Clooney as Batman. Does that sound like someone whose advice you’d like to take at all?

Truly a respectable filmmaker, Mr. Schumacher is!

The whole "23" thing is so stupid, too, and obviously just the result of really far reaching grasping for straws and paranoia. Every incident of the number can basically be summed up as "coincidence," and all the shit this movie pulls about it is so goofy it's impossible to take seriously. You can take anything and twist it around until it adds or subtracts or multiplies or divides to 23, and anyone who is stupid enough to believe this whole farcical conspiracy...well, this movie is for you guys. Certainly the rest of us don't want it. Frankly I think this movie deserves 23 whippings with a belt.

To sum up the experience of watching The Number 23…well, just watch this video:

The images in this review are copyright of...oh my God, are there 23 total characters in all the captions in this review? I'M COMING APARTTTTTTT!!!!