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1 + 1 = 2
2 + 1 = 3
2 + 3 = SHIT.
My how the mighty have fallen. Oh, wait a minute - we're talking about Joel Schumacher. The same Joel Schumacher that has brought us classics like: "Batman & Robin", "8 MM", "Phantom of the Opera" and "Bad Company". Watching him fail is commonplace these days. And, though there are always a few exceptions ("Veronica Guerin", "Flawless"), for the most part - he is one of the worst directors in the business today. So, how in the hell did he ever convince a box office powerhouse like Jim Carrey to agree to a pile of shit this big? Maybe it's because the two of them had already worked together on a stinky little turd known as "Batman Forever"? Whatever the reason, I will assume Schumacher used some level of hypnosis to also lure Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen and the always incredible (except for here) Danny Huston. I take offense to this film on a multitude of levels, the least of which being it offends everything cinematic. It's one of the worst films Schumacher has ever made, and one of the worst films of the year.
Before I reveal the plot - keep in mind this is not a comedy. Jim Carrey stars as everyman Walter Sparrow, an animal control officer who loves his wife and son but seems a little bored with his normal life. One day, thanks to fate, he stumbles upon a book called "The Number 23". As he reads the book, he immediately starts noticing similarities between the character in the book, a detective named Fingerling, and his own childhood and life. It's like they were separated at birth. We see the book played out in fantasy sequences with Carrey doubling as Fingerling, lowering his voice an octave to really deliver the worst vocal narration in the history of film - and this is the same man who narrated us through "Simon Birch" - can you believe it (yes, that was sarcasm)? As Sparrow becomes more and more paranoid, he begins an obsession with the number 23 - connecting to just about everything in his life and everything throughout history. At first, his wife (Virginia Madsen) doesn't believe him, but soon not even she can deny the remarkable similarities. The usually great Danny Huston co-stars as Isaac, friend of the family and speech maker. And, Logan Lerman, fresh off whatever WB show he has been on recently, co-stars as Walter's son Robin...Robin Sparrow.
How to describe a film this awful? Schumacher's approach to the film resembles the approach of someone who doesn't know what in the hell he is trying to create. There is some misplaced comedy at the beginning of the film, with Carrey attempting his same old ridiculous shtick - and the director uses some odd rewind techniques that really serve no purpose. The fantasy sequences are oddly filmed, not consistent in color and tone and make Jim Carrey look like a douche. These particular sequences are so poorly written - "She had a face that was made for smiling". If you think that one is bad, how about - "I'm a killer. I killed someone." That's a line you would expect to find in the latest installment of "Hot Shots!", not a supposed thriller we're expected to take quite seriously. And, the script is not just awful there, but throughout. The reality scenes are so boring and clichéd, and we are never really drawn into the whole '23' conspiracy. This is odd considering it had the potential of really causing some thought on the matter, and all it did was make us realize that not even a $30 million paycheck can make Carrey a legitimate lead in a film like this. I would have chosen someone like Mel Gibson for the role - he could have carried it far better.
Before we progress, let's take a moment to examine these performances. I want to see the taped session where Jim Carrey met with Joel Schumacher and the studio executives and read over this script for the first time, assuming that's how it happened. How could someone like Carry read a script like this and think it was anything other than career suicide? It's like he pissed all over his work in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". He can get away with expensive comedies and he can get away with quirky independent films - not a B-grade thriller by Joel Schumacher. As his wife, Virginia Madsen is 'just there'. She doesn't do anything. She has an absolutely dreadful scene with Carrey in a hotel room at the end of the film that made me cringe. It's poorly written and even more poorly acted. The typically sublime Danny Huston is merely there to deliver the primary story behind the film, and be suspected of some stuff. Otherwise, he's pointless. Logan Lerman gets the third billing in the film, and he's in the film as much as coherency, and that's not a lot. But, even if the performances were amazing, they could not compensate for one of the worst endings in the history of cinematic endeavors. It's amazingly bad. It's mind-numbingly awful. Just bad.
In conclusion, I thoroughly recommend "The Number 23" to all audiences. HA! I wouldn't recommend this film if 23 naked soccer players were at my door promising one night of paradise and all I had to do was tell one person to see this film. Okay - maybe I'd recommend it then, but I would feel horrible about it and send a letter of condolence to whomever was unfortunate enough to sit through two hours of recycled shit thrown on a film reel. "The Number 23" was like one of those nightmarish experiences you tell your children about. I imagine a lot of parents told their children about the time they saw "Ishtar" or "Hudson Hawk" in the theatres. This is going to be one of those films for me. Maybe I'm not being cruel enough? When the world comes to an end and the Devil is sitting in the fires of hell, and the wicked are standing around him, waiting on what sort of torture and pain he is going to prescribe - their eyes will fill with tears and their hearts will stop when they see one phrase on Satan's television - 'directed by Joel Schumacher'.
- added 08/25/2007, 02:33 AM
The fantasy sequences are oddly filmed, not
consistent in color and tone and make Jim Carrey
look like a douche. These particular sequences are
so poorly written - "She had a face that was made
for smiling". If you think that one is bad, how
about - "I'm a killer. I killed someone."
Those scenes were going for the feel of a
"pulp" detective magazine with the colors and the
writing - those lines just absolutely reeked of
something you'd find in those magazines, and they
were obviously trying to capture the look of the
magazines with the combination of dreary / bizarre
colors. It especially makes sense when you figure
in the detective magazine subplot, but that's
enough about that.
with the review. I really wanted to like this
movie when I heard about it, and after renting it,
I was hoping to come on here and ask you what you
were smoking as the concept was excellent and the
trailer made it look like an instant classic.
Instead, the only thing I could do when the
credits started rolling was laugh at that final
scene in the hotel (the one that you mentioned).
2/10 since I'm a little more forgiving than you.