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The Number 23 – Movie Review

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“Jim Carrey has your number.”

Title: The Number 23

What better date for a psycho thriller movie called The Number 23 to hit screens than the 23rd. This new film directed by Joel Schumacher (The Phantom of the Opera, Phone Booth, The Lost Boys) has all the elements that I like in a twisty, mind-bending drama. For one, it isn’t so mind bending that I need therapy afterwards and two it has a nice little ending that, though needing some explaining, still sort of catches you unaware. Add to this a few comedic elements to break the tension along with eye-catching cinematography and you have a pretty decent flick.

Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) is a typical 9-5 guy with a loving family. He seems to me to enjoy the normalcy of life and avoids any sort of turmoil if at all possible. He isn’t setting any records in life but how many of us are. You like him right off the bat and that helps in bringing you into the story. When his wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen) buys him a book on the number 23 Walter finds it not only fascinating but curiously too close to his own personal life. As he attempts to solve the secret of the book and its author he uncovers clues that would be better off hidden.

This film could have gone many different directions with its plot and character development. As Sparrow obsesses over the book and gets drawn into the number 23 he could easily have become another Jack Torrance (The Shining). A madman who loses all connection with reality. But instead the story turns into a mystery of sorts as Sparrow and his son Robin work together to solve this question of the book and its main characters. This in itself helped lighten the feel of the film without taking away from its theme. You still wonder about the book and the sanity of its author but you are drawn into the hunt instead of fearing the main characters. This again could be the talents of Jim Carrey. Gone, thankfully, is the goofy Ventura persona and in its place is a well liked, guy next door figure that works perfect in this film.

The Number 23 is rated R for violence, disturbing images, sexuality and language. This was surprising to me as at no time did I feel like I was in an R Rated movie. Though the themes and tones are older teen and young adult in nature I have seen far worse R films and quite frankly worse PG-13 films. If anything watch out for the violence and sexuality of the characters played out from the book Sparrow is reading. All in all this is a stylized thriller a few notches above your normal twisty flick. Trust me, you will be looking for the number 23 everywhere on the way home. I give it 3.5 out of 5 dog bites. With a look at The Number 23. I am Matt Mungle.

The Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(02/22/07)

Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts the weekly syndicated Indie Rock Radio Show Spin 180. Plus with his wife Cindy they do a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies. For additional reviews and interview clips visit the website www.mungleshow.com

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