- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2007

In the spirit of Jim Carrey’s new thriller, “The Number 23,” in which he plays a man obsessed with a numerology-inspired book, we offer 23 reasons to steer clear of this garbled mess.

1. We’re used to laughing at Mr. Carrey’s movies … but we’re pretty sure this wasn’t meant to make us howl.

2. Thrillers should at least thrill once, right?

3. Co-star Virginia Madsen must be getting sick of seeing the adjective “wasted” used to describe her performances in lackluster movies.

4. Some images are always scary. Demonic clowns. Mimes. Even those pale-faced kids from the “Grudge” films. The haunted dog in “The Number 23” doesn’t even rank.

5. In fact, there’s nothing scary about the number 23, or any number beyond the 15th of April.

6. Freddy. Jason. Michael. 23. Which one of these things is not like the other?

7. Descents into madness take time. It took at least an hour before “The Shining’s” Jack Torrance pounded out his “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” manifesto. Mr. Carrey loses his gourd after reading the book’s first chapter.

8. Director Joel Schumacher makes the film’s 95-minute running time feel like a marathon.

9. In hindsight, Mr. Carrey’s work in “The Cable Guy” looks Oscar-worthy compared to his hyperventilation here.

10. Audiences will swallow a lot. They won’t gulp down a contrivance every five minutes.

11. Animal control specialists have a warm spot for the critters they corral. Mr. Carrey’s character, who’s in that line of work, looks like he’d rather run over a dog than scratch behind its ears.

12. If you’re going to have a title sequence ripped off from “Seven,” you better make sure the audience will see at least some gratuitous violence.

13. Some historical coincidences can be unnerving. Not this fuzzy math. Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times … William Shakespeare was born and died on the 23rd day of a month. Yawn.

14. The crime noir story at the heart of the numerology book featured here could be the most boring pulp yarn ever conceived.

15. Telling two stories at once isn’t necessarily a buzz kill. Remember “The Princess Bride’s” story within a story? But the two stories in question here make it impossible to decipher which tale is more confusing. Or less interesting.

16. Had Mr. Carrey’s character been an accountant instead of a dog catcher, all this might have made a smidge more sense.

17. Mr. Carrey narrating parts of “The Number 23” with a slight lisp reminds us he used to be funny.

18. We still can’t forgive Mr. Schumacher for directing “Batman and Robin.”

19. Or “Flawless” … or “Bad Company.”

20. In the movies, teenage sons are supposed to rebel against their parents. Mr. Carrey’s son (Logan Lerman) buys into the 23 nonsense as quickly as Papa.

21. When a film’s only jump comes from a cheap scare involving flying birds, it’s time for a rewrite.

22. I found himself nodding off at least two times and glancing at my watch three times. Two … three … 23!

23. Stay away, and we won’t have to suffer through the sequel — “The Number 24.”

*

TITLE: “The Number 23”

RATING: R (Violence, disturbing images, sexuality and adult language)

CREDITS: Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Fernley Phillips.

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

WEB SITE: www.number23

movie.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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