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"The Number 23"

Directed by Joel Schumacher.
Written by Fernley Phillips.
Starring Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman and Danny Huston.

Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  2/27/07


How is it that a man can direct a dozen bad films and be allowed to continue to direct more of them?

Easy--start off your career by directing some of a particular generation's greatest hits, then coast all the way to age 70.

Joel Schumacher has directed these films, all of which were great:

  • "St. Elmo's Fire"

  • "Falling Down", the Michael Douglas drama where a guy goes crazy after sitting in a traffic jam

  • "The Lost Boys"

  • "Tigerland", which turned Colin Ferrell into a breakout star

Joel Schumacher has also directed these films, which fall somewhere between horseshit (i.e. completely ridiculous, made-up drivel) and dogshit (the essence of awfulness, if that is even a word):

  • "Batman & Robin" (my brother Dave's pick for Worst Film Ever Made)

  • "Bad Company" (the Chris Rock/Anthony Hopkins version)

  • "D.C. Cab" (Mr. T...should I say more?)

  • "Flawless" (De Niro and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a bad film?)

  • "Batman Forever" (as bad as this was, Schumacher was given the reins to do even worse with "Batman & Robin")

"Batman Forever" co-star Jim Carrey decided that once was not enough, so he signed on to star in Schumacher's new psychological thriller "The Number 23", a film so fucking piss-poor that people in my theater tonight were walking out halfway and three-quarters of the way through it; it was like they said to themselves

"This is fucking atrocioius, but let's wait around to see if the killer is who I think it is...oh, yes, it is, now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go home and kill more brain cells watching 'Idol'"

or some such nonsense.  Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, an animal control officer who picks up a book his wife (Virginia Madsen) recently bought called "The Number 23."  It's about a guy named Fingerling who offs his girlfriend after he sees that she's cheating on him with another man.  It's also about the obsession the narrator has with the number 23, in any combination of dates, combinations, random number pairings, license plate name it, if there's a way to come up with 23, our boy Fingerling is going to find it...and, this obsession takes over Walter's life as well.  When the events of the book mirror closely to Walter's own life, his obsession gets biblical as he tries to determine who the real author of the book is.

Yeah, "The Number 23" is predictable.  But, that doesn't mean the film shouldn't be watchable, but thanks to the genius that is Schumacher's talent, the flick is a tough sit for anyone with an education and an interest in even moderate levels of filmmaking.  Carrey is as bad as he's ever been onscreen, strange because Carrey playing a crazy guy shouldn't be this much of a stretch.  Madsen is also poor; there's a funny moment near the end of this film that shouldn't be funny, but it's funny because the emotions should be running much higher and it's almost like she is reading her lines at the end of a long business day--limply saying to someone "No...I know you...are not a killer" while you've got a knife to your neck ought to elicit real thrills, not ho-hum decorum.

The mystery sucks, there are almost no real scares or jump moments, the supporting cast makes you think "low-budget afterhours drama on the WB", the film looks bad and even the requisite crazy-guy moments feel ripped off from other movies.  Fucking awful!!!

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09