Beyond the Rhetoric


Paranoia, graphomania, and The Number 23

March 3rd, 2007 by
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Jim Carrey in The Number 23

Paranoia: a disorder characterized by a continuing and unwarranted suspiciousness

Graphomania: a compulsion to write, particularly books

The Number 23: a movie that starts out with an interesting premise but never manages to connect events together in a particularly meaningful way.

Last month, I promised that I was going to review every movie I watch in 2007 so here is The Number 23, starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen.

The basic premise is thus: Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, an everyday kind of guy that happens to be an animal control officer. One day on the job, just as his shift is about to wrap up, he gets bit by a dog, making him late for picking up his wife, played by Madsen. She wanders into a bookstore and comes across a book called… (drum roll please)… The Number 23. She passes it on to Walter, he starts to read it, and starts to see too many similarities between the main character of the novel (Detective Fingerling) and himself. He becomes obsessed with the number 23 and starts to see it in every aspect of his life, from his home address to his social security number, from his birthday to the day he met his wife. Fingerling gets involved in murder, suicide, and all sorts of other good things. Walter is drawn in further and…. I’m not going to ruin it for you.

I grew up watching Jim Carrey as the outlandish comic actor. I enjoyed watching him as Fire Marshall Bill on In Living Color and as a pet detective in Ace Ventura. While it’s understandable that he wants to expand beyond comedy and be taken as a serious actor, I just don’t buy it. There are little jokes here and there, but all in all, it’s supposed to be a dramatic thriller. Shockers come up, but I found myself laughing at Carrey more than being pulled into the tense situations. Jim’s facial expressions are inherently humourous, even when he’s trying to show pain, paranoia, or revelation.

Before all the bad reviews came out, I was pretty stoked about this movie. It seemed fascinating and had a great premise. The fantasy world depicted (the one described in the novel) was very artfully done, very stylish. It was almost Sin City-like, and it made for a very sensual experience (and not just in a sexual kind of way). The art was great and it really felt like you were “watching” a live graphic novel. Too bad the events seemed terribly disconnected and the progression of the plot wasn’t executed nearly as well as it could have been. It was disjointed, and there were several instances where it would change from day to night (and back) almost instantaneously. Someone would walk into a building in the middle of the night, but as soon as they enter, bright sunlight would fill the room. Very strange.

The Number 23 is far more thoughtful than Ghost Rider, but it’s nowhere near as intelligent as Little Miss Sunshine. Considering that it’s been surrounded by bad reviews, The Number 23 is better than I expected. It’s not Oscar material, but there’s enough substance here that’ll get you thinking (just a bit) and enough thrills that will have you guessing what happens next. I can’t recommend it, per se, but if you’ve got a spare evening, it wouldn’t be wasted watching The Number 23.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Side note: As soon as I exited the auditorium at Silvercity Metropolis, I immediately saw these three movie posters:

  • 300: That’s a three and two zeros. 32 = 23 in reverse.
  • TMNT: Comes out on March 23.
  • Shrek the Third: “Shrek the” is two words, followed by “third.” Also comes out on May 18 (5/18); 5 + 18 = 23.

I know, weird. Here are few other not-so-related instances of 23.

  Category: Arts and Entertainment  

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16 Responses to “Paranoia, graphomania, and The Number 23”

  1. Dylan Duarte says:

    Because of 300, I don’t think I care about any other movies anymore.

  2. Well, 300 may be another battle-crazed epic, but the content itself has been criticized where I wrote a short review here.

    Looks like movies like to use numbers for their titles. I wonder what is the significance of ’23’.

  3. Gregg says:

    I haven’t seen anything but the trailers, so I guess I wouldn’t be spoiling it by saying 2 divided into 3 equals .666

  4. Gregg says:

    Michael, I hope that Google crawls your blog daily. If so, then that explains the ads I see for bipolar disorders in this review. If not… is Google trying to say something about you or your blog?

    And did you see the very early show today? Or am I right in thinking that you went and saw the movie on day 2 of month 3?

  5. What I see are Paranoid Schizophrenia or Panic attacks.

    * Heart pounding. Is Google referring to the show instead?

  6. Michael Kwan says:

    I think Google crawls me daily, because I usually start getting served relevant ads within the day. That’s not to say that I’m not psychological instable :p I have written on Seasonal Affective Disorder, after all.

    And yes, I saw the movie on Friday night, March 2….. 3/2…. 32…… *shudder*

  7. Ajith says:

    Michael please tell me what blog roll is and ill add you

  8. Michael Kwan says:

    Replied to your MyBlogLog message. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Sean says:

    It looks like a good movie. Funny how you noticed all of the “23” “instances” after watching the movie. Maybe Silvercity had it all planned out to get everyone paranoid lol.

    Great review!

  10. March the 2nd? Usually, I would write it as 2/3 for local context. lol. A coincidence for you as well? ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Ajith says:

    Michael Kwan Michael Kwan where have you been?
    I have been to John Chow’s to…..

    does it go like this. Last day I didnt find you in John chows(except for comments) nor at your own blog????????????
    Where are you

  12. Michael Kwan says:

    ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been working, still am. I’ll be posting up another blog entry later this evening.

  13. Ajith says:

    I have added you in my blog roll ( will you add me too)

  14. […] and chasing it around the house which is always good for a few posts.ย  Michael also blogs the odd movie review and touches on the occasional piece ofย cool […]

  15. […] highly stylized and a little full of itself. There are a lot of dull browns and grays (kind of like The Number 23). There’s crimson blood flying all over the place as heads fall and limbs get removed from […]

  16. Alex says:

    i was born aug 15, 1994
    aug = 8
    i remember everything since i was 6, now im 17

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