movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] [Wikipedia link]

PLOT SUMMARY: A man reads a book that seems to be about his own life.

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a man named [Walter] Sparrow.
who lived a life that seemed straight as an arrow.
Then events started relating to the number 23 —
There was actually a deeper secret to see:
A fate that could not even be predicted by Tarot.

HAIKU REVIEW: It’s not possible
to create a twenty-three
syllable haiku.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Murder cover-up leads to complications.

PEOPLE: Jim Carrey, in a strangely serious role. I think this put off some people by causing them to think there would be comedic elements in this movie, or causing them to not be able to take Carrey seriously. Also with Virginia Madsen (Sideways, Dune, Candyman) as the wife, Logan Lerman (What Women Want, The Patriot) as the son, Danny Huston (X-Men Origins:Wolverine, The Aviator, 21 Grams), and smaller parts with Lynn Collins (Silverfox from X-Men Origins:Wolverine, 13 Going On 30, 50 First Dates) and Rhona Mitra (Underworld:Rise Of The Lycans, Doomsday, Sweet Home Alabama, Hollow Man, Beowulf, Boston Legal/The Practice), who I often mistake as Kate Beckinsdale. [I have lately learned to tell them apart, but when I showed selected parts of the movie Doomsday to John The Canadien, he still insisted it was Beckinsdale until I fast forwarded to the credits :)]

Directed by Joel Schumacher, who brought us the passable movies Flatliners, Falling Down, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin, the much-loved non-sparkling-vampire film The Lost Boys, and the excellent psychological thriller Phone Booth. Of everything he’s ever done, I think this and Phone Booth are the best.

QUIRKS: Numerology. Obsession. Conspiracy. Finding a book that seems to be about YOUR life.

The number 23 has a pseudo mystical history behind it, relating to William S. Burroughs, and found in all kinds of interesting places. The latest album by The Church is actually titled “Untitled #23”, based on the mysticism of the number 23.

This album was released on Carolyn’s birthday, February 23rd. The movie actually takes place in February, too.

VISUALS: Awesome! A lot of the movie delved into the fantasy world of what happened in the book “The Number 23” (the book that Jim Carrey is reading in the movie). These shots were very artfully done, adding a visual layer that doesn’t exist with most modern-day suspense movies. Pretty much noir, but in color.

MORALS: Beware of apophenia.

BAD STUFF: Everybody hated this! Why?!?

8% on Rotten Tomatoes? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a rating so low!

Jim Carrey got a Razzie Award for Worst Actor? I think that speaks more of people wanting to typecast Jim Carrey, than of Jim Carrey’s acting. Much like how everyone hated Steve Carrell when he was serious in “Dan In Real Life“. (Which was an awful movie, but not because of Carrell.)

I blame some peoples’ bad ratings on the fact that they can’t deal with Jim Carrey in a serious role. In fact, I blame these people for typecasting in general. Probably the reason actors get typecast into specific roles is because people go crazy with the hate when someone dares to do something different from what they’ve previously done. “Even though he’s trying not to be, I can’t help but think of him as ____.” (insert whatever they are typecast as into blank)

This movie has twists. Perhaps, if people figure out the various twists in the movie ahead of time, that they wouldn’t enjoy it as much. But I still find that a fault of the viewer, not of the movie. Carolyn & I sure as hell didn’t know any of the twists ahead of time. I happen to think it’s very counterproductive to one’s viewing enjoyment to destroy your ability to be surprised by nurturing an ability to predict everything you watch. It’s absolutely unhelpful.

People might also have hated the fact that it could be considered a horror movie where everyone is running away from … a number. Not exactly the scariest beast to be avoiding!

And it sort of ambiguously straddles the genres of psychological horror and occult/supernatural horror. That ambiguity pisses off people and makes them perceive aspects of the movie as plot flaws, when they are actually deliberate ambiguities.

CONCLUSION: Out of the 25 horror/thriller movies we’ve watched so far in 2009 (It’s October 2009 as I write this), this is our favorite!

The movie Live! comes close, but not quite, to beating this. But Live! live isn’t quite a horror movie–it’s more sensational, whereas this was more creepy and psychological. But there’s an occult aspect to this movie, as well, which makes it even creepier.

Prevailing opinions disagree, but I actually found this to be a much better numerology movie than Pi, though Pi has less occult/supernatural aspects to it.

I think their choice of Jim Carrey as the leading role put off a lot of people, and should not have. This movie was absolutely amazing, both visually and cerebrally. And it all seems to piece together with most questions answered, if you just pay enough attention. Had I missed some things, I might not have liked this as much. But I did. We both freakin’ loved it!


Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 9.5/10. Tho only reason I can think of to not give this a 10 would maybe be that the first 10 minutes seemed kind of boring. It’s still rounding up to 10 on my IMDB vote.

Carolyn: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 10/10.

The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.1/5 stars (3.8/5 stars for people who rate like me–apparently Netflix predicted that I would like this more than most people). For IMDB, the native public rating is 6.2/10.

RECOMMENDATION: If you avoided this because people said it sucks, you might not want to believe them. But if you can’t swallow Jim Carrey in a non-comedic role — or if you’re the type of person who, in general, can’t watch movies with certain actors in them because you hate those actors — then you should just avoid this movie. If you’re someone who is entranced more by the story, than the players in that story, then I would find it really hard to find fault with this movie.

*** MAKE SURE YOU GET THE UNRATED VERSION. *** Differences are here (with spoilers): differences.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Pi. A Beautiful Mind. [highlight for spoilers] The Machinist. The Usual Suspects.

MOVIE QUOTE: “I once read that the only philosophical question that matters is whether or not to commit suicide. I guess that makes me a philosopher.”

COINCIDENCES: (Wonder Woman, The Number 23) 2 movies in a row with Virginia Madsen. And it took us 3 days to watch both those movies. [cue spooky music]

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Daniel H & Orpheus Stain said it was a great movie. J. Walter Swartz really liked it. Benj liked it. Christie didn’t like it. Chris H/Lisa hated it. WTF.

This is one of the most underrated movies in years, in terms of it drawing out a lot of harsh criticism from people who think it had absolutely no value and was an utter piece of shit. (It’s IMDB rating of 6.2 isn’t too shabby. But the people who love this movie aren’t really speaking out about it; most reviews are negative.)

Here’s a funny YouTube video making fun of it, “The Number 47”:

Mood: full
Music: Dethklok