The Number 23
Dir. Joel Schumacher. 2007. R. 100mins. Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman, Danny Huston.
Madsen, lucky girl, gets yet another obsessive hubby to soothe and cosset in the form of Carrey, an animal-control officer with numerological bats in his belfry. An obscure detective novel (presented as a story-within-the-story that recycles the cast) alerts him to the fact that most words and numbers can be boiled down to 23 (or 32, which is 23 in reverse!) if you put your mind to it. Weirder still, events and characters in the novel seem (at least to him) to echo those of his life. Uncanniest of all, however, is the fact that it takes him weeks to finish reading the book, which is maybe half the thickness of the Stickney phone book.
Convinced that 23 is driving him toward murder, Carrey enlists his long-suffering wife and loyal son (Lerman) on a quest to find the novel’s mysterious author, “Topsy Kretts.” (Get it? The movie presumes otherwise.) Eventually he develops full-blown Scribbling All Over the Walls syndrome, the floridly cinematogenic mental disorder previously depicted in such crapola flicks as In the Mouth of Madness, Quills, Suspect Zero and Candy.
Number’s shock-twist ending is insultingly stupid even by the rock-bottom standards of schlockmeister Schumacher (Batman Forever, The Phantom of the Opera). If you’re in the mood for a witty little paranoid nightmare that succeeds in doing what Number fails at, rent Adam Simon’s Brain Dead (1990). (Opens Fri)—Cliff Doerksen