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 childs 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. Earths 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 Walters 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 Carreys names add up to 23; the letters in Jim Carreys and Virginia Madsens names add up to 23.
But the coincidental psychopathology is not convincing, primarily because of Schumachers lurid noir indulgences, turning shock into schlock, and Carreys 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 doesnt add up.