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"The Number 23" DVD Review
23 Jul 2007    

By Heather Turk (Editor/Reporter (L.A.))

Barely making its budget back domestically, The Number 23 may have not reestablished Jim Carrey as one of Hollywood’s $20+ million men, but it definitely showcases what a talented actor the funnyman is.

In The Number 23, Carrey reunites with Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher to tell the story of a man who becomes obsessed with a book that appears to be based on his life but ends with a murder that has yet to happen. After receiving an obscure book titled The Number 23 from his wife (Virginia Madsen) for his birthday, Walter Sparrow (Carrey) becomes increasing convinced that the book--written by a “Topsy Kretts”--is based on him. His obsession with the novel--and the number 23--eventually start to consume him, as he begins to realize the book forecasts far graver consequences for his life than he could have ever imagined.


The Number 23
© New Line Cinema


Playing both Walter and the book’s central character, Fingerling, Carrey shines as both a troubled husband and father and a dark, mysterious detective who eventually goes from solving crimes to committing them. As Fingerling, audiences get to see yet another side of Jim Carrey--a side only briefly seen before in 1988’s The Dead Pool. Viewers won’t be able to turn away from watching Carrey portray the tattooed, paranoid and sadistic detective, and his performances is so strong that it’s almost hard to believe this is the same man who’s made a career off of comedies such as Dumb and Dumber. While Carrey may have played crazy before (The Cable Guy, anyone?), his performances usually always have a hint of dark humor to them. This time, though, there’s nothing funny about The Number 23’s villain--Fingerling is just one sick, twisted pup.

Carrey’s performance isn’t the only thing that makes The Number 23 shine, though. Schumacher’s use of light--especially in the scenes that bring pages from the book to life--is visually stunning. The contrast between Schumacher’s use of overexposure and Fingerling’s dark, black trench coat and slicked-back hair truly creates a world of its own, making it easy for viewers to identify when a scene is taking place in the real world versus the world created by The Number 23’s Topsy Kretts. Only near the end, as the line between Walter’s own life and Fingerling’s story becomes more blurred, do audiences truly question what’s real and what’s fiction.


The Number 23
© New Line Cinema


The movie’s biggest surprise, however, has nothing to do with how convincingly Carrey can portray a killer, but with how detailed the script is for a film that runs just over 90 minutes. Not only does screenwriter Fernley Phillips fully develop two worlds during the movie’s short hour-and-a-half running time, Phillips also has enough time to go back and point out all of The Number 23’s carefully placed clues so that viewers can finish watching the movie without asking “What about…?” While flashing back to retrace all of Topsy Kretts’ steps may seem a bit redundant, it’s nice to see a film with so many twists and turns have all loose ends neatly tied up by the time the credits roll.



Special features


The Number 23The unrated DVD (New Line Home Entertainment, MSRP: $28.98) features even more chills and hours of bonus materials detailing everything from casting (“The Making of The Number 23”) to the number 23’s role in mathematics, numerology and psychology (“The Number 23 Enigma”).

Probably the most interesting bonus feature, though, is the Infinifilm track, which allows viewers to access interviews, deleted/alternate scenes and fun facts about the movie while watching 23. Audiences can see footage from the on-set celebration during the 23rd day of shooting, learn about the origins of Fingerling’s tattoo and more. This, coupled with the pop-up fact track (“The cast and crew likes to call each other on the 23rd day of the month”), truly provides hours of additional entertainment while giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at The Number 23 they won’t be able to find anyplace else.

Overall, it’s a detailed DVD fitting for such an interesting film that will keep viewers guessing until the very end.

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