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In Focus: review of Jim Carry's Number 23

 

March 1, 2007



by Kathy Brainard

Jim Carrey gets to show off his versatility by playing two dramatic roles in his new suspense film, “The Number 23.”

Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a loving husband and father who works for an animal control agency.

He also plays a noir-style detective named Fingerling who is the main character in a book entitled The Number 23.

Just by happenstance (or was it?), Sparrow's wife, Agatha (played by Virginia Madsen), picks up the book at a used book store and gives it to him to read.

He quickly gets sucked into the tale of Fingerling, a detective whose encounter with a suicidal blonde introduces him to an obsession with the number 23.

Fingerling himself becomes obsessed with the number, which leads him to insanity and murder.

As Sparrow reads each chapter, he finds more and more parallels between himself and Fingerling, including the recurrence of the number 23 in various aspects of his life.

He, in turn, becomes obsessed with the book and the number 23, and fears that he will commit a crazed murder just like Fingerling did.

With the help of his wife and son, he sets out to find the author, hoping to discover a key to understanding the book, the number, and their links to his life.

This film is actually more entertaining than scary, barely earning its “R” rating.

There is suspense, but not the kind that makes you jump out of your seat.

The camera is on Carrey throughout most of the film and he proves once again that his acting talents go way beyond the goofy guy that we all loved in “Dumb and Dumber” and “Ace Ventura.”

Director Joel Schumacher (“Phone Booth,” “Batman Forever”) keeps the action moving at a fast clip, holding the viewer's attention as the storyline jumps back and forth between Sparrow and Fingerling.

Kudos to first-time screenwriter Fernley Phillips, who took a fascinating topic--the obsession with the number 23--and turned it into an intricate murder mystery, including some clever plot twists at the end.

If for no other reason, this film is worth seeing as it will probably be the first introduction for most people to a theory called the “23 Enigma.”

This is an idea made popular in the late 1950s that proposes that everything is directly connected to the number 23 or some variation thereof.

The film throws in several neat facts related to the number.

For instance, it takes 23 seconds for blood to circulate through the human body, and every human receives 23 chromosomes from each parent.

The fact that 23 is a prime number leads into all kinds of pop culture theories about the power and importance of primes, indisputably supported by evidence such as 23 being the number of Michael Jordan's basketball jersey.

It could just be a coincidence (or is there a connection here?) that it was also in the late 1950s that a German psychologist named Klaus Conrad, in his work on

schizophrenia, coined the term “apophenia” to describe “the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or

meaningless data” (www.answers.com/topic/apophenia).

Thanks to “The Number 23,” we now know that, as we connect the dots in our lives and try to make some sense out

of the picture that we get, we are just getting in touch with our inner apopheniac.

 

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