Jim Carrey as a schizophrenic murderer isn’t convincing, in this melodramatic film about a man obsessed by the Number 23. Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, St. Elmo’s Fire) has unintentionally managed to make a comedy of horrors that really is quite humorous in parts. Walter Sparrow (Carrey) becomes engrossed in a homespun novel about Detective Fingerling, whose life degrades into mayhem because of his obsession with 23’s esoteric numerical puzzles. Sparrow’s preoccupation with the book follows his botched attempt to catch a nasty dog that bites him, leading one to believe that Sparrow’s contraction of rabies might be the cause for his mental degradation. As the story progresses, Sparrow retreats further into Fingerling’s world, rife with suicidal sexpots and hardboiled detective sleuthing. His wife, Agatha (Virginia Madsen), also plays Fingerling’s girlfriend, sex-crazed Fabrizia, who taunts Fingerling until he stabs her. Back in reality, Walter aims to solve the unresolved crimes in the book, taking it as a murderer’s diary rather than as an imagined work. The story is half-baked, though Carrey’s portrayal of a mentally disturbed person is what makes The Number 23 comedic. Long, contemplative stares, and over-dramatized acting renders Sparrow a clichéd character, rather than one odd enough to engage viewers. For a better version of almost the exact plot but with a terrorist’s twist, see Thr3e instead. —Trinie Dalton
About The Number 23 (2009)
Starring: Ryan Ng, Daniel Shulkin, Austin Ip, Siamak Shahmohammadi, Varouj Tanielian, Richard Gonzo, Nick Bargis, Vincent Fong, Chris Bargis, Adrian Tse, Amir Khalifa, Utsav Gandhi, Tom Abbasi
Director: Daniel Shulkin
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