Saturday, February 13, 2010

Movie Review: The Number 23

Blogger's note: Significant spoilers for the ending.

Earlier in my 6th room review I touched briefly on point-of-view and how they should or should not work. The Number 23 starts in one consistent viewpoint, but by the end I was so confused I didn’t know whose POV I was supposed to be in-yours, mine, or the main character.

Walter Sparrow (played by Jim Carrey) is your average joe dog catcher who is celebrating his birthday. His wife, Agatha, gives him a book titled the Number 23, about a Detective named Fingerling (also played by Jim Carrey) a murderer who believes all accidents and events happen around the actual number 23. Even though they try to bring a balanced review about the numerology, they also imply that this number is tied to the devil.

Of course, the very idea that numbers are somehow linked to evil is preposterous, especially a random one like 23. I mean, it’s not like my birthday falls on the 23rd or anything. Um, excuse me, I hate to interrupt this review, but I have to make a quick phone call.

“Satan! They’re on to us! We have to move our plans ahead of schedule! The cities will burn! THE CITIES WILL BURN!”
 Oh, and don’t worry if you see numbers in this movie that aren’t 23. Walter has the power of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and he will make that number add up to 23 even if he has to grab a calculator.

Anyway, as Walter continues reading, he finds a lot of similarities between himself and Fingerling. After reading about the murder of a foxy woman named Fabrizia, he starts to dream about murdering Agatha. Later in his investigation, he discovers that he is in fact, Fingerling, and the events he read is his own personal biography. It is revealed that while attempting to commit suicide, Walter bumped his head and conveniently forgot everything in his life. Okay, I can believe that. It now actually makes sense Jim Carrey is playing both roles.

But wait a minute. Doesn’t Walter look a little young to be a detective, then go crazy, then write a book, then spend a few years in rehab, and then get married and have a teenage son? Well, towards the end, Walter/Fingerling casually mentions to the audience: “What you have read so far is not the whole truth. Much has been changed to protect the innocent.. and the guilty.”


What is the point of showing half the movie in flashbacks, only to have the main character later admit they’re not real? And we’re not just talking about names-we’re talking locations, occupations, scenes, dialogue..everything! Did Walter ever meet Suicidal Blonde? The only reason he did so was because he was called in as a detective…but he wasn’t! He later found another body because he was a detective…but he wasn’t! Whose story is this, anyway? What are we supposed to believe? Why didn’t Agatha find it somewhat odd that he has a twenty-year gap in his life? 


I do have to give credit where credit is due. Despite…grr, the flashbacks not being real they are very flashy and well done. However characterization is average, including Jim Carrey. This movie came out around the time when he was still a comedy actor, and it was weird to see him in a more serious one. I’m more impressed with Virginia Madsen, whom I had no idea was playing duel roles until I saw the credits. As Fabrizia, she does a pretty amazing job as a temptress who likes dangerous sex. Unfortunately I’m not quite so amazed as her job as mild-mannered wife Agatha. Not because of her acting, but because I have trouble believing any wife would stay with a man who becomes obsessed with numbers while shoving a knife in her face, and then turns out to be an actual killer.

But hey, that’s love for you.

Final Grade: 2 ½ out of 5. Average. Not much else to say about it.

Hang name ‘Natasha Bennett’ has fourteen letters. I had six friends in high school. Last night I ate thirteen fries. But wait! I also have 10 toes! 14+6+13-10…of my god! 23! Run away!

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