The Number 23 was Joel Schumacher's 23rd directing project, and the numbers of Jim Carreys date of birth add up to 23. There is at least one '23' in every scene and the number '23' pops up at least once every 2 minutes 30 seconds. This movie is really all about a selfish character hiding from his past, but it won't let him go.
Jim Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a dog catcher with a loving wife who owns a library and a son who clings to whatever his dad is into, like a lap dog on 2 legs.
One day when Walter is kept late from getting off of work, a dog bites him and leads him to a cemetery, from there he is lead to the library late one night, where he picks up a booked entitled 'The number 23' by Topsy Krets (pronounced Top secrets).
Walter follows the book and its way of using 23 to spot patterns that don't exist in every part of his life.
The film is about a man who does a lonely job and disregards the outside world to become obsessed with this book which seems to mirror his past and present. To everyone else he seems mad, to the viewer he is a very selfish character. The reasons for his becoming deeply entrenched in this book and the investigation within it become so obvious so quickly that the viewer will see the ending, and truth behind the book, about a third of the way into the film.
Opening as an investigation into a murder and who the culprit is using '23' to guide the way, it ends as a simple 'who dunnit' with loads of pretentious numeric rubbish used as filler to cover what is essentially a very poorly constructed lackluster thriller.
For any sane viewer, we know that even in the land within this film, the number pattern in life is just a case of a character looking for a way to link numbers to destiny. It's not that the numbers have control, it's that the character creates an illusion in his own mind that gives numbers meaning only to him. The film is about escaping the truth and then leaving 'numeric bread crumbs' to get back to the truth. Not a bad idea, if all the surface material wasn't so pretentious and overdone.
Not to mention that some of the occurences to bring the so-called twist to surface, just seem chucked in without any justification.
The film has its plus points; most notably the fantasy scenes from where Walter is reading about Fingerling and his investigation into how characters obsessions with 23 got them murdered or committing suicide. The noirish colours in these scenes really pop out and are intriguing to watch, all else however is very mind numbing stuff.
The sound quality is poor on some of the character dialogue as Jim Carrey seems tongue-tied at parts and just couldn't get the words out clearly.
Overall, I would not recommend the movie itself, it will not entertain you, just annoy you with the constant over-doing it of the '23' enigma.
The DVD as a package holds value for money, with special features including a 'feature commentary', interesting 'fact track' and many featurettes and deleted scenes. It's a shame that the film accompanying it is not as loaded as its extras.
The biggest problem with the film is that Walter Sparrow is not a likeable character, he is either pathetic or selfish, or both. Jim Carrey felt miscast as his dramatic moments never rang true. The film failed on so many levels, especially on the most important level; in entertaining.