Review in a Hurry: Overeager, ham-handed director Joel Schumacher fails to completely ruin this pop thriller, with a strong performance by Jim Carrey and a weirdly compelling story about numerology, mysticism and coincidence.

The Bigger Picture: Who knew? Turns out there's a cultish, worldwide obsession revolving around the number 23. The Titanic sank on 4/15/1912—add up the dates, and you get 23. Shakespeare was born, and died on, April 23. The list goes on and on—and now, it's the subject of what could have been just another (pun intended!) paint-by-numbers thriller.

When family guy Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey, with a dark side), picks up a book titled, you guessed it, The Number 23, he can't put it down. He shares a lot of similarities with the book's narrator, including a sudden, spooky obsession with 23. The number's resonance, however, is laughable. Literally. Walter sees a car pull out of parking spot 23, and the audience giggles. Walter reminds his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen) that they met when he was—gasp!—23, and we snicker. We get it. The date of Hitler's death minus the first day of World War I divided by the age of George W. Bush—don't forget to carry the 1—adds up to 23! Brrr!

Not helping matters are the over-the-top moments so typical of director Joel Schumacher's oeuvre, including indulgently dramatic scenes reminiscent of telenovellas and fancy-schmancy montages that are way too long.

Luckily, Carrey, Madsen and Logan Lerman (as their son) turn in great performances. As the seemingly supernatural plot becomes a compelling detective story, the actors ably play a realistic family that works together to figure out the enigma of 23. Of course, they don't have cell phones or a car with seat belts, but...whatever.

All of Schumacher's bells and whistles can't tarnish the good performances and a decent plot with an emotional twist that, ahem, adds up. Despite itself, The Number 23 is a perfectly good Friday night popcorn movie.

The 180—a Second Opinion: It wouldn't be hard to really hate this, especially since Schumacher's movies are such easy targets. Plus, if you're already feeling hit over the head by the ads, skip it.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.