Friday, February 23, 2007

Math Addict: Serious Jim Carrey + Is He Serious? Director Joel Schumacher = Seriously Silly “The Number 23”

I’m sorry, but if you are afraid of numbers and the wild coincidents they sometimes concoct you are a serious loser. Now I went into “The Number 23” with an open mind. The previews suggest that Jim Carrey, playing “serious” again, begins to become obsessed with the mathematical integer known as 23. His birthday is 2/3, his social security number adds up to 23, and by golly he, like all humans, got 23 chromosomes from each parent. If you’re scared yet then you should see a shrink.

Director Joel Schumacher (of the recent Phantom of the Opera) only further tarnishes the movie’s silly premise with his garish visual style. He over directs every scene and manages to get, surprise-surprise, overacting from his cast. Carrey is a funny guy but he can also act. Unfortunately, Schumacher doesn’t let him act normal. He prefers style over substance, as was the case when he took over the popular Batman franchise from Tim Burton in 1995. Burton is also a stylistic director, but his films usually aren’t terrible. Schumacher has to beat it over our heads that he’s hip and cool and look at the neat shots he has come up with. Is he trying to make the film’s silly story scary? If so, he fails.

The script shows how Walter’s (Carrey) wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen) wanders into a small bookshop (Walter is running late because a dog bit him and she’s waiting to meet him) and a book entitled The Number 23 catches her eye. She thumbs through it and decides to buy it for her husband as a birthday gift (She should have just gotten him socks and a nice golf bag). As Walter reads the book we’re transported into the world of the novel he’s reading. These scenes are told in a film noir sort of way that reminded me of the God-awful Black ‘I-Just-Might-Dry-Heave’ Dahlia, which I’m still recovering from. It turns out the tattoo-tattered Carrey we’ve come to find so strange in the trailers isn’t the Walter character but the book’s Detective Fingerling character. Are you confused?

So Walter becomes obsessed with this book because the Fingerling character becomes obsessed with the number 23 and it’s relation to him. It seems like 23 is some kind of evil number. For instance did you know that 9/11/2001 adds up to 23? Or that Ted Bundy was executed on the 23rd day of the month? Or that the Mayans thought the end of the world would come on the 23rd? If you get sick of hearing the many ways the number 23 is evil you should stay away. It gets sickening hearing 11+1+11=23 or 20+3=23 or 2/3=.666. Who really cares? The dialogue is down right silly and thank you screenwriter Fernley Phillips for lines like “23 is just a number!” Ya think?

This movie is ridiculous and doesn’t for minute make you believe in the crazy things going on. It’s not thrilling, it’s not scary, it’s not gripping, it’s not entertaining, it’s not suspenseful, it’s not amusing, the script is bad, the acting is bad, the editing is bad, the directing is bad, it’s not exciting, it’s not interesting, it doesn’t make sense, it’s not creepy, it’s not chilling, it’s not frightening, it’s not funny, it’s not so bad it’s good, it’s poorly cast, it’s boring, it’s tedious, it’s frustrating and it makes “The Da Vinci Code” look Oscar-worthy. There you go, 23 reasons to stay home. GRADE: D