The Number 23 looked like a thriller in the trailers, but it is actually an interesting view of a man’s descent into madness. Jim Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a dog catcher. After a series of events that makes him late for meeting his wife on his birthday (2/3), his wife buys him a book titled The Number 23 by Topsy Kretts. The book follows a man, who calls himself Fingerling, as he becomes dangerously obsessed with the number 23. Everything in his life adds up to it in some way or another – the letters in his name, his birthday, etc. The longer Walter Sparrow reads, the more he becomes convinced that this man is writing about him. The childhood description almost parallels Sparrow’s own childhood. Fingerling became a detective because of the neighbor’s dog. Sparrow became a dogcatcher because of the dog next door. Sparrow sees the number 23 everywhere – in his Social Security number, his address, his driver’s license number.
As the book progresses and Fingerling becomes violent, Sparrow is terrified of himself and what he might be capable of. His paranoia grows and madness creeps in. The most fascinating part of this movie is watching Jim Carrey as the character slips into insanity. Carrey has truly grown into himself as an actor. While he’s still one of the funniest men alive (don’t believe me? Watch Dumb & Dumber again), he is as real and believable as a serious actor as he is a comic actor. He plays this role especially well – the manic, obsessive man on the brink of losing his mind.
The movie was well done – the cinematography was especially interesting. The worlds of Fingerling and Sparrow were visually different, which was nice. The story was well-written and tied up most of the loose ends or questions. Virginia Madsen was great and the kid playing Sparrow’s son (named Robin – what cruel parents would do that to a child?) will definitely get more acting roles, but the true star of this film is Jim Carrey. He’s fascinating to watch, and completely becomes the character. The only other actor I can see playing this role successfully is Ryan Reynolds, and that’s only because he played a similar role so well in The Amityville Horror remake.
Overall I thought it was a great movie. I don’t know that it’s one I’d watch over and over again, as the repetition of the number 23 does eventually get more annoying than interesting. The story was interesting and well portrayed and the acting was excellent. That’s more than you can expect from most movies these days. Definitely check this one out. But try not to see the number 23 everywhere when you leave the theater…
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