Friday, February 23, 2007

Oh, how I tried to like THE NUMBER 23

While I always try to be fair-minded as a critic, I really made that extra effort to like THE NUMBER 23. Whenever I've seen Jim Carrey in a role that isn't his usual straight comedy, I've been highly impressed by him. In particular, I think his performance in MAN IN THE MOON deserved the Best Actor Oscar. I also like Virginia Madsen and Danny Huston as actors and believe that they aren't as well know as they perhaps deserve to be. As for director Joel Schumacher - the man who will always be blamed for killing off the Tim Burton BATMAN franchise - he has made some of my favourite films. I cite FALLING DOWN, THE LOST BOYS, FLAWLESS and TIGERLAND in his defence.

But let's get right to it: THE NUMBER 23 bored me rigid. But it's not like it's badly filmed or acted. Indeed, I rather liked the director's visual stylings and the photography of Matthew Libatique. I even like the concept of the film. It's a psychological thriller in which a happily married guy called Sparrow (played by Carrey) starts to believe that the central character in the novel he's reading is a mirror of himself. The character in the novel is a homicide detective called Fingerling (also played by Carrey). He meets a woman who is driven to suicide by a paranoid conspiracy theory about the number 23. The detective believes that the curse has been passed to him and is soon having nightmares in which he murders his sexually provocative girlfriend. Back in the real world, Sparrow also starts to believe that he is in the centre of a 23 conspiracy and starts to lose control over his life.

That the movie fails is down, I think, to a shockingly bad script. The structure is all over the place. The movie takes too long to get started, uses too much voice-over, and never feels as though it is in control of the inter-twining plot strands. Little details in how the conspiracy theory are fleshed out are infantile and stretch credulity just that little bit too far. For instance, the author of the novel is called Topsy Krett. Top Secret. Geddit?!

So, it is with heavy heart that I report that a movie with a bold concept and bold casting is just an uninvolving mess. Not a disaster, by any means, but no reason to hand over ten quid at the multiplex either.

THE NUMBER 23 in the UK, US, Iceland and the Philippines. It opens in Belgium and France next week and in France, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Germany, Singapore, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Italy in March. It opens in Portugal in April and in Russia in May.

1 comment:

  1. That's too bad, I was really looking forward to this. I think it's going into the rental queue. h