Directed by Joel Schumacher
Distributed by New Line Home Entertainment
Here it is — the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. With the DVD release of The Number 23, I am finally free of last February’s 28 Days of Suck™! Yep, I covered all that shit: The Hitcher (review here), Ghost Rider (review here), The Messengers (review here), and the ever-so-dismal Hannibal Rising (review here). I am now a free man. One who never has to look back again! Thank the video gods! The green mile has been successfully walked! Sure my psyche is still on the damaged side and I have developed a nervous tick, but whatever! After this review it’s over! Without further ado …
Jim Carrey plays a badass(!) dog catcher by the name of Walter Sparrow. Walter’s life is pretty ordinary; he’s got a good job, a loving family, and is about to celebrate a birthday! Speaking of which, his wife (Madsen) has bought him a most interesting gift, a small red book about an obsession with the number 23. As he starts reading, our dear hero begins to suspect that the aforementioned book was written about him as memory after memory come flooding back, all having to do with the number 23. The game is afoot and Walter begins seeking out the truth.
Ya see, that’s just not what I wanted. Remember the trailer for White Noise (review here)? Man, it had me hook, line, and sinker. In it they didn’t show you a single scene from the film; they just let you listen to what are believed to be authentic EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recordings of the dead sounding off from wherever they may be. It was frightening! Of course in the movie the white noise itself (which had me so excited) played second fiddle to Michael Keaton running from one ridiculous plot line to the other. Same thing happened here. The trailer for The Number 23 looked like it was going to be about the enigma surrounding the numeral. Instead we got a Lifetime original film starring Ace Ventura.
Things started off OK enough, but right around the forty-minute mark everything took an extreme nose dive. Every cliche imaginable is thrown at you a mile a minute while we delve deeply into Sparrow’s world(s). By the time the third act rears its head (after you’re subjected to several film noir type sex scenes in which hot steamy bondage filled fuck sessions transpire with each character nearly fully clothed), things become so far-fetched, heavy-handed, over-directed, over-explained, and uninteresting you’ll wonder why you didn’t shut it off twenty-three minutes sooner.
As for the disc being unrated, don’t get your hopes up. Step back five feet from your TV. There’s nothing to see here. That is until you get to the extras.
New Line is known for cramming as much as possible on to their Home Video Infini-Film releases, and The Number 23 is no exception as it features several ways to watch the movie. The supplemental material is broken up into two sections, The All Access Pass and Beyond the Movie. What that means is one set of features will be about the film itself, and the other will focus on things not directly related to the subject matter. Let’s start with the The All Access Pass features.
First up we have sixteen deleted and alternate scenes that total out to about ten minutes, a twenty-three-minute making-of featurette, an eleven-minute look at the world of Fingerling, trailers, and a commentary with director Joel Schumacher (theatrical cut only). I have to be honest here; after listening to Schumacher prattle on endlessly for around a half an hour, I began fast forwarding through the commentary. Each time I stopped to listen, all I heard was masturbatory back patting. If you can spend two full hours listening to this guy, you’re a better man than me.
Next up, the Beyond the Movie extras. The first one had me excited — a twenty-five minute featurette titled The 23 Enigma. It started with Carrey staring maniacally into the screen and spouting off all the different facts tied to the number 23. PAYDIRT! This is what I wanted the movie to be. Then Jim faded away after a couple of minutes, and the segment veered off into a conversation about numbers and math. All of a sudden we now find ourselves sitting through a lecture with spooky Carrey interludes every few minutes to break up the monotony. Sigh. Moving on … The next extra is a brief piece about numerology and how to determine your life path number. I have to admit this was kind of interesting. Pretty cool. Lastly we have the fact track option, which will display factoids about the film and its stars via subtitles. Again this is for the theatrical cut only. All in all this is yet another stellar package for a very mediocre movie.
Watching the Infini-Film version of this gives you access to all of the extras on the fly while the movie is playing. Pretty cool.
If there’s anything good to be said about The Number 23, it’s that it is filmed wonderfully. The eye candy certainly abounds, but no matter how good it looks, underneath all of the gloss still lies one hell of a mess. I expect this to be hit or miss with a lot of folks. I could easily give you 23 more reasons not to watch the film, but why bother? All that matters to me is that I am now done with February of 2007.
Theatrical and unrated cuts of the film
Audio commentary with director Joel Schumacher
Deleted and alternate scenes
Making-of The Number 23 featurette
Creating the World of Fingerling featurette
The 23 Enigma featurette
How to Find Your Life Path Numbers featurette
2 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5
Discuss The Number 23 in our forums!