The Number 23

Plot: Walter Sparrow is a run-of-the-mill normal man. He’s an animal control officer who loves his work and his family. He stumbles upon the book “The Number 23″ and his life takes a turn for the worse. Walter becomes obsessed with the novel and the number, starting to worry he could be capable of truly awful things.

Who’s it for: Thriller die-hards who want to see Jim Carrey stretch his acting in a new direction … although this isn’t that good of a direction. Plus, if you are happy Virgina Madsen is back on the map, you could pull a double-feature. Madsen is co-starring in “The Astronaut Farmer” with Billy Bob Thornton, which also opened Feb. 23.

THE SCORECARD

Expectations: I was excited. I’ve been a Jim Carrey fan and love when he does something besides comedy, such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” or “Man on the Moon.” The only thing that made me nervous was a February opening (normally that means the studios aren’t expecting big things). But then I thought they just wanted to make sure the film opened up on Feb. 23 … Ooooo … Creepy. I was thinking B+.

Actors: Jim Carrey as Walter Sparrow/Fingerling: Besides the animal control officer, Carrey plays the main character of the novel The Number 23. Fingerling is a detective trying to figure out a suicide and it’s connection to the number 23. The film starts off strong for Carrey, including a ominous narration, he clearly eats up … But, as the story deteriorates, so does his performance and you start to wonder how simple of a mind we are dealing with in Walter. Grade: 5

Virgina Madsen as Agatha Sparrow/Fabrizia: It’s not her fault. Madsen just wasn’t given a lot to work with. She’s a bakery owner, who at one point, decides to go to an abandoned psychiatric ward, in the middle of the night, alone. Grade: 3

Logan Lerman as Robin Sparrow: Man, the kids at school have to kill him for that name. I actually watched the pilot of the short-lived TV show “Jack & Bobby,” so I know the kid can act, but not here. And I know my math skills aren’t as polished as those in this film, but Lerman plays a 13-year-old. Really? Really? Grade: 2

Talking: At one point a character utters the line, “I’m a killer.” And just to make sure you understand, the character follows it up with, “I kill people.” Grade: 2

Sights and sounds: There is a definite dark style to “The Number 23.” Joel Schumacher (the man accused of killing the first “Batman” franchise) uses quick cuts and seedy imagery to put us on the edge of our seats, but then once we are there … there’s nothing more to offer. Grade: 5

PLOT SPOILERS:

Best Scene: It was only a couple seconds long, but the first glimpse of the book, on a shelf, calling itself out to Agatha, did send a shiver down the old spine.

Ending: In a thriller such as this, the ending can be all that matters. It’s a make or break. The film has me going for a while, but then it seems to borrow from every other thriller, just looking for a way to wrap up. And to top if off, “The Number 23″ gets severely over-explained, leaving nothing to the imagination.

Unanswered Questions: I understand there is a mystery and certain lore to 23, but this film doesn’t do it justice. And does Agatha really read the entire book while waiting for Walter to pick her up? And if so, why does it take Walter what seems like weeks to finish it.

Rewatchability: If I flip to it at 2:30 in the morning, I may give it a second or third glance just to make sure it is as bad as I think it is, but if I make it longer than 32 minutes, I’d be shocked.

Overall: “The Number 23″ gives Michael Jordan a bad name. Heck, it gives Devin Hester (the new #23 in Chicago) a bad name as well. Even if Jim Carrey is in the film, it’s not good when the audience laughs at climatic finales. Carrey tries his best, but the film never gets psychologically creepy, never makes the viewer question what is fiction, what is reality, and most importantly what the number 23 is all about.

Overall Grade: 3

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