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The Number 23

a film by Joel Schumacher

The letters in my name add up to 9. My social security number adds up to 40. My driver's licsence 34. Only my birthday, which totals 22, even comes close. Perhaps it is these very un-conspiracy-theoried calculations which predeposed me to disliking The Number 23. But then again, it could be simply that this quite ludicrous thriller-wannabe about obsession and delusion never even comes close to convincing me of any of its numerological coincidences - nor does it ever manage to even be in the same realm as its obvious choice of hero-worshipping Hitchcockian twisting and turning MacGuffin-taunting plot would have you believe.

Though I must admit to some sort of perverse enjoyment at watching Jim Carrey go absolutely fucking cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs in a way we are not use to seeing - for dramatic (albeit rather ham-handedly) purposes and not his usual overwrought Ace Ventura burlesque. As a quick aside, Carrey's famed (or is that infamous) butt-talking pet detective may be hidden in here somewhere, as he does play an animal control officer w/ delusions of being a detective - although the letters in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective only equal 22 (unless one were to count the midway colon) so perhaps the whole thing is mere coincidence anyway.

Overall, Schumacher's film (and yes, I suppose the fact of who the director is should have warned me even more off this film) is just one big ball of bullshit ontop of bullshit. The story of a man who becomes obsessed with the number 23 and finds himself in a delusional film noirish (and cheap Schumacheresque noir at that) world. Coming just shy of sculpting 23 Devil's Towers out of instant mashed potatoes, Carrey is all balls nutso in this film. It is a flashback inside a fantasy inside a dream inside a delusion inside another fantasy inside yet another fucking flashback. All this and still nothing to really care about. Perhaps the answer is in the number after all. Virginia Madsen plays Carrey's harried wife (Jim Carrey + Virginia Madsen = 23) with just the right amount of bewildered loyalty and second banana obscurity to place her firmly in the same hole which had earlier been dug for many other a past dutiful wife role which has become synonymous with such one-time hopefuls as Bonnie Bedelia and Anne Archer. Bonnie Bedelia + Anne Archer = 23. Perhaps even the casting department was in on the whole thing as well.

In the end, I suppose the obvious choice of numerical ranking to be doled out is, well, 23, but even with my perverse enjoyment at parts of this film withstanding, I cannot, in my heart of hearts rank this film even that high - not that a 23 is considered high in the first place - so instead, since ranking films numerically is nothing shy of arbitrary anyway, I have decided upon the number 21, which I do suppose could have a case made for it in that 21 + 21 = 42 and 42 reversed is 24 and 24 - 1 is...well, you get it. As a final note, that last sentence had exactly 92 words in it, which when divided by 4 is... [03/02/07]

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