Ever wake up excited about the prospect of a wonderful day but by mid-afternoon you realize that your whole day’s a bust? That’s sorta like Jim Carrey’s latest film, “The Number 23.” After beginning with so much promise, it eventually falls apart right before your eyes.
The story begins on Walter Sparrow’s (Jim Carrey) birthday, Feb. 3 (2/3). He is late meeting his wife to celebrate because of a mishap at work. His wife, Agatha (Virgina Madsen), wanders into a bookstore, and a hardcover, titled The Number 23, catches her eye; she decides to buy it for Walter. It is the story of one man’s, initial obsession with the number and how that obsession drove him to dark and depressive depths.
Walter begins reading the book, and suddenly he’s seeing the number everywhere. Whether looking at his name, people on the street or coincidences in history, he becomes convinced that there is a hidden message in the number. Before long, Walter begins to view life through the eyes of the main character of the book, Fingerling. Where Walter is introverted and unsure, Fingerling is confident, cocky and dangerous.
Fingerling also begins a torrid affair with the sexy and sultry, Fabrizia (Madsen), and she is stimulated by how far she can take him sexually. To Fingerling, their relationship equates to “death and sex.” Meanwhile, Walter has become thoroughly engrossed in the tale, suffering frighteningly darker visions, including thinking Agatha is having an affair with a family friend, Issac (Danny Hutson). On and on it goes, Fingerling exploring his dark world of the number and Walter falling deeper into its powerful grip.
The story reaches its zenith, when Walter discovers a connection to the strange dog that got away earlier on his birthday, a mysterious dead girl and the search for the author of the hypnotic tale. To say that the “twist” is disappointing is being WAAAAAAYYYYY too kind. The film quickly loses its way with illogical actions from characters and the film’s conclusion, which felt like it took 23 minutes to explain.
Earlier in the film, Walter said he wanted two words on his tombstone – “what if.” I wonder what if Carrey and director Joel Schumacher got 23 kicks in the a– from every person who had pay to sit through this disaster? One could only wish!