Movie Review: The Number 23


Jim Carrey stars in this fairly ordinary psychological thriller, based on a real life conspiracy-theory school of thought that attributes a mystical power to the number 23.

Walter Sparrow (Carrey) is a run-of-the-mill dog catcher who slowly comes to believe that a novel he is reading was written about him. The main character in the novel, Fingerling, is obsessed with the number 23, and this obsession is picked up by Sparrow, who begins to see evidence of the number everywhere.

Not that it’s hard to do when you try: a street address of 599 translates to 5 + 9 + 9 = 23; the colour pink is made up of red and white, whose numerical descriptors add up to 92, which divided by 4 = 23; ohmygod, my own initials are BC, that’s 2 + 3 = 23 and I was born on the second of December, that’s 2 + 1 + 2 = 2 + 3 = 23. And when we added the five digits on the cat’s registration collar, what do you think they added to? That’s right, 23.

Director Joel Schumacher (Phone Booth, 8MM, Batman Forever) has a lot of fun adding in plenty of superfluous 23 sightings into the action; in fact I found ‘spotting the 23s’ the most engaging part of the film. Guess how many chapters on the DVD?

The action switches between the real life world of Walter Sparrow and his caring wife Agatha (Virginia Madsen), and the imaginary world of Sparrow’s novel-based alter ego, Fingerling. The film-makers incorporate some dark Sin City-style imagery into this fantasy world, and in a nice touch which exacerbates the sense of Sparrow’s obsession, Carrey and Madsen also play the highly stylised lead roles in Fingerling-world.

The premise of an enigmatic, magical number had some promise, but generally the plot was far-fetched and unconvincing. The actors do their part competently, the production team does theirs, but at the end of the day, if it looks like a dog and smells like a dog, in all probability it is a dog.

Famous Number 23s: Michael Jordan, David Beckham, Shane Warne, Mark Bolton…spooky.

2.3 stars


5 Responses to Movie Review: The Number 23

  1. roaf says:

    I heard this has one of the most ridiculous twists ever, involving an author’s name. I’m curious to find out what it is!

  2. clarkebruce says:

    Hmmm, not sure which ridiculous twist this could be?

    The one where Carrey works out the author’s name ‘Topsy Kretts’ is in fact a pun on the words ‘Top Secrets’?

    Or the one where Carrey goes back to the bookshop to find out how he can trace the author. ‘Self-published. No author or publisher contact details at the front of the book. Computer says there are no other books by Kretts. Hey wait a minute, what’s this address handwritten at the back of the book?’

  3. SG says:

    that movie could have been so good.

    there are a MILLION 23s out there. probably like, 23,000,000 of ’em.

  4. clarkebruce says:

    SG – I see your comment was logged on the 23rd of Feb. Spooky, huh?

    And I went out for dinner last night and they sat me on Table 23.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  5. guns says:

    september 11.. aka 09/11/2001 and all the digits.. pretty sure it equals 23

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