The Number 23 (2007) (part 4 of 4)

Caption contributed by Albert Okay, the big shocking twist is that Jim Carrey’s character is the one who actually wrote The Number 23, but he just doesn’t remember it. Which means the book he’s been reading all along, that he thought was about him, really was about him. Surprise!

Caption contributed by Albert You see, when Madsen was poking around at the mental hospital, she found a rough manuscript of The Number 23, where if you peel off the label that says “Topsy Kretts”, it has the name of Jim’s character. It’s sort of like the butcher cover, only completely worthless.

Caption contributed by Albert He refuses to believe it, until she also shows him the saxophone that he used to play. This causes Jim to immediately flash back to his college days.

Caption contributed by Albert “Saxamaphoooone… saxamaphooooone…”
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Caption contributed by Albert And it seems that instead of Febreeze, Laura Tollins (played by Rhona Mitra) is the one who was casually walking away from a raging fire. The movie is getting a little better, as far as the casting of the femme fatale goes, even if they’re trying to pass off 30 year old Rhona Mitra as being 23 in these scenes.

Caption contributed by Albert So Jim runs back to the No-Tell Motel, goes back to Room 23, and discovers that Chapter 23 of the book is written all over the walls. It was just hidden under the wallpaper. And Chapter 23 is Jim’s whole confession. So… someone came in, saw a murder confession written all over the walls, and decided to just… wallpaper over it?

Caption contributed by Albert Now comes a crazy amount of exposition as the film detours into Flashback City. In these flashbacks, we learn Carrey is the one with a dad who was so obsessed with the number 23 that he killed his mom, and then himself.

Caption contributed by Albert You know it’s the “unrated” version because Jim Carrey gets a blowjob. Rhona doesn’t pull a Brown Bunny here, however. It’s all implied Skinemax-style sex. Thank god, too, because I can’t think of a more unappealing image than Jim Carrey getting blown.

Caption contributed by Albert Okay, I just thought of a more unappealing image than Jim Carrey getting blown.

Caption contributed by Albert Young Jim takes pics of Rhona naked… and his camera has a flashbulb? Going by the tombstone, these flashbacks are taking place in 1991. Not 1961. I mean, geez, come on.

(By the way, if Jim supposedly turned 32 in 2007, that means he’d have to be 16 in these 1991 flashbacks. Does he look 16 to you?)

Caption contributed by Albert Rhona gets hot for teacher (the guy who’s currently in jail for killing her) and Young Jim sees it all happen right before his eyes.

Caption contributed by Albert So he goes mental (he does that a lot in this movie), and starts writing on her leg with a Sharpie while she’s sleeping. This, I think, is a sign that it’s time for the “I need some space” conversation. Or the “it’s not you, it’s me” conversation. Immediately. Don’t bother packing your toothbrush first.

Caption contributed by Albert Carrey puts a knife to Rhona’s throat (note the RED walls). She just taunts him and says he’s too much of a pussy to kill her. Can you blame her? Look at his haircut.

Caption contributed by Albert Turns out he’s not that much of a pussy.

Caption contributed by Albert Teacher gets arrested for killing Rhona. Meanwhile, Carrey goes nuts, checks into Room 23, and starts frantically writing his novel. On a typewriter. In the year 1991.


Caption contributed by Albert Young Jim scribbles Chapter 23 all over the walls, and then throws himself out the window. He survives, but with massive head injuries that wipe out all memory of these traumatic events.

Caption contributed by Albert One of his doctors acquires a copy of Jim’s Number 23 manuscript. He reads it and is driven insane by the number 23, and eventually becomes the old guy who slits his own throat at the post office.

Honestly, that’s all the explanation we ever get for this guy’s grisly suicide: The number 23 + ???? = batshit insane!

Caption contributed by Albert Young Jim gets a clean bill of health! Off to the normal world you go!

Caption contributed by Albert As he’s leaving the mental hospital, he literally runs into Virginia Madsen and destroys her cake, and that’s how they meet. End flashback.

Okay, I gotta stop the screencap recap momentarily, because this is the point in the film where all logic breaks down. If the staff at the mental hospital knew Jim’s name—and they had to, since it was on the manuscript—why wouldn’t they inform his family of what happened to him? Yes, we know his parents are dead (Dad killed Mom), but surely he must have an aunt or uncle, somebody somewhere who’s related to him.

Also, wouldn’t he be aware of his memory loss? Supposedly, he doesn’t remember that Dad killed Mom. Wouldn’t he at some point think to himself, hmm, my parents aren’t around. I wonder what happened to them? And if he knows his own name, couldn’t he easily do some digging, say, pull up police records, newspaper articles, something to tell him what happened to his parents?

And he has a copy of a book he owned as a child. He remembers owning it as a child. How he could remember that, and not the death of his own parents?

This movie would have made a lot more sense if they had established at the very start that Jim suffered severe memory loss, and doesn’t remember anything before he checked out of the hospital. And he would have to be a “John Doe”, obviously, and not know his real name. But that would’ve made the twist ending even easier to guess. Here’s a tip to aspiring screenwriters: If your twist ending causes the entire movie to make no goddamn sense, don’t put in a twist ending.

Caption contributed by Albert Back in the present, much overwrought drama follows about how Jim killed a girl, and whether or not Jim will kill again. See, just when she actually needs Tony Todd to materialize with a hook for a hand, he’s nowhere to be found.

Caption contributed by Albert A despondent Jim almost steps in front of a bus (the #23 line, no less). But then he remembers he has a son, and suddenly finds the will to live.

Caption contributed by Albert So, it’s all wrapped up nice and tidy at the end: The wrongly convicted man goes free. Rhona Mitra gets a proper burial. Jim goes to jail for the murder, but will probably get out in a few years thanks to a lenient judge.

Caption contributed by Albert But then he notices the clock in the prison, with its hands pointing to the 2 and the 3. So he’s not cured at all. I smell a sequel! Paging Steve Carrell!

Caption contributed by Albert The closing shot. Okay, that’s kind of a cool coincidence. Doesn’t improve the preceding movie one bit, though.

I feel pretty safe in saying that the 23 Enigma could have been cut out of the script completely, and it wouldn’t have affected the basic story at all. It’s really just window dressing, desperately trying to cover up all the huge plot holes that ultimately cause the movie to collapse in on itself.

Virginia Madsen’s behavior in this movie just makes my head hurt. First, there’s her little nighttime excursion to an abandoned mental hospital. But once she stumbles upon the evidence that her husband is a killer, what does she do? She does everything she can to keep it from him. Not only that, but she hides the body so the police won’t find it. Madsen’s character should be in jail by the end of the movie, too.

And what about NED, the bulldog that stalks Jim Carrey? The dog seems to know Jim is a murderer, and even leads Jim directly to his victim’s tombstone. But the dog couldn’t possibly have witnessed a murder that took place in 1991. That would make him 112 in dog years, and he sure doesn’t look it. So where did the dog come from, who’s the owner, and why did it take the dog this long to start stalking Jim?

And it’s established that Laura Tollins’ tombstone is just a marker with no grave, because they never found the body. If so, why would they put a date of death on her tombstone if they have no idea if and when she actually died? And why would they make her death date the same as her birth date?

And of course, there’s the fact that we never find out who planted The Number 23 in that bookstore for Madsen to find it in the first place.

But I could almost ignore all the plot holes if the movie was tense and exciting. Truth is, very little happens in it. Maybe it would have worked as more of a conspiracy thriller, with Jim Carrey discovering that some sinister organization is behind all the occurrences of 23 in history. Or that some supernatural force is responsible. Or space aliens. Honestly, all of these possibilities are only slightly more ridiculous than the plot twist we actually got.

And between the movie’s screwy timeline, the lack of cell phones, the lack of computers, and the lack of an internet for Jim to google his parents’ names and find out what happened to them, I’d say it’s pretty obvious this script was written about 10 years ago. So maybe it would have made more sense if Schumacher shot it as a period piece set in the late ’90s. I doubt it would have been any less boring, though.

In closing, I’d like to note that this film has an insane amount of bonus features, including hours of interviews, deleted scenes, and even a documentary on the 23 Enigma. Why do the crappiest movies always have the most extensive bonus features?

Join me for my next Razzie Screencap Recap, coming soon!

Multi-Part Article: The Number 23 (2007)

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