“The Number 23,” review by Susan Granger

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This is a psychological thriller about obsession, insanity and the “23 enigma” that refers to the belief that all incidents and events are directly connected to some permutation of that number.

Each parent contributes 23 chromosomes to a child’s DNA. Blood takes 23 seconds to circulate throughout the body. There are 23 letters in the Latin alphabet; the ancient Egyptian and Sumerian calendars begin on July 23. Earth’s axis is off by 23.5 degrees. William Shakespeare was born on April 23rd and died on April 23rd. The list goes on.So when dogcatcher Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) stumbles onto an obscure novel, “The Number 23,” he cannot stop reading it. This dark, convoluted murder mystery, revolving around a detective named Fingerling (alter ego Jim Carrey), seems to mirror Walter’s life, bringing up nightmarish fantasies and murky memories that intrigue and terrify him, much to the chagrin of his wife (Virginia Madsen) and teenage son (Logan Lerman) who see him scribbling gibberish on the wall, on his own body, everywhere.Director Joel Schumacher (“Phone Booth”) desperately wants us to buy into first-time screenwriter Fernley Phillips’ numerology mystique with a conclusion reminiscent of “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” After all, the letters in Joel Schumacher and Jim Carrey’s names add up to 23; the letters in Jim Carrey’s and Virginia Madsen’s names add up to 23.

But the coincidental psychopathology is not convincing, primarily because of Schumacher’s lurid noir indulgences, turning shock into schlock, and Carrey’s sinister overacting – making one yearn for the poignant restraint he showed in “The Truman Show.” On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Number 23” is a murky, flawed 4. As a thriller, it just doesn’t add up.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.