The Number 23: Unrated – DVD Review

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Joel Schumacher


Jim Carrey Walter Sparrow/Fingerling
Virginia Madsen Agatha Sparrow/Fabrizia
Logan Lerman Robin Sparrow
Danny Huston Isaac French/Dr. Miles Phoenix

DVD Release Date: July 24, 2007
Rating: R and Unrated
Running Time: 101 Minutes

The Movie

Walter Sparrow didn’t think much was out of the ordinary in his life. His wife Agatha ran a bakery while he enjoyed his job with animal control. They had a great house and a son named Robin and all seemed right with the world. That was until his birthday one year. With one minute left to go on his shift, he was looking forward to spending the evening with his wife very shortly. That was until he got radioed to go on one last call and catch a stray dog. This would make him late for meeting his wife.

So a little tardiness won’t kill a person and it even gave Agatha time to find a gift for Walter. While waiting, she walked into a bookstore and found a book for him entitled “The Number 23.” Nothing more then a gift of some strange literature; they went to enjoy their evening. When they got home though on that night of February 3, Walter began reading and noticed very strange coincidences between his life and the chapters in the book.

The book went on about a detective named Fingerling who met a woman named the Suicide Blonde. She introduced him to her obsession with the number 23 which was passed onto her by her father. Everything that had ever been anything in her life coincided with the number 23. The letters of her name, her birth date, and even her favorite color could all be connected to that one number. It was then that she began to realize how many other events in history had to with 23. The number became an obsession. An obsession that caused the Suicide Blonde to suffer the same fate as her father and to also live up to her name.

The further Walter gets into the book, the more he realizes the similarities between it and his own life. Things are becoming too real for him and his obsession with the number 23 is quickly affecting his life as a whole. Some deeper research connects that very number with such horrible tragedies as the Oklahoma City bombing, 9/11, and the Waco Texas cult massacre. The truth behind everything and the answers as to what can put life back to normal are known by someone and Walter aims to find them. His only problem is that he must do it before his obsession turns into a tragic end for him or someone he loves.

Billed as a psychological thriller, The Number 23 is actually much more then that. It has all the signs of psychological thriller but seems like it is more a detective mystery then anything else. Carrey’s constant narrative while the events of the book happen in the film is a fantastic touch that gives it a rather old school Casablanca type feeling. Surely it is more modernized and even quite erotic at some times, but there were moments I was expecting the film’s color to drain and for it to turn to black and white.

For fans of only Carrey’s light-heartedness and comedy, then you will be sorely disappointed. Except for the occasional passing chuckle or two in the first ten minutes, The Number 23 has no humor whatsoever and is very dark. It is not even in the same dramatic frame of work that Carrey showed in The Majestic. Here it is taken to a whole new level and flows perfectly. All the actors hit their marks with great precision, and it was nice to see how every character served a purpose. They all were involved in some way and don’t worry if you miss it because it will come to you in the end.

Both the original theatrical and unrated versions of the film are included on the DVD. The unrated version does not really add much to the content of the film except for an extended scene here and there adding up to a grand total of and extra three whole minutes.

The Video

The film is shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and shows a great contrast between light and dark throughout the film. It starts out rather bright and cheery with some nice coloring and sharp imagery. As the film progresses, it begins to get very dark and really looks good. The darkness is pierced by mostly fluorescent lighting which makes for a great feeling to the mood they were going for.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and really does a fantastic job as well with setting the overall eerie feeling of the film without making it scary. The music chosen comes through wonderfully without too much bass and the songs they picked were some great choices. With the amount of regular conversation between characters and the constant narration, the sound of human voices needed to be spot on and easily audible and it was. At the beginning of the film, you can make out one little audio glitch in a line spoken by actress Virginia Madsen, but it last no longer then a couple seconds.

Special Features

“The 23 Enigma” Documentary – Here in this twenty-five minute feature, director Joel Schumacher, writer Fernley Phillips, and some mathematics professors from Loyola Marymount University explain the entire “23” phenomenon. The information given by the professors is extremely interesting and very educational. They go into certain situations with other number combinations besides 23, the history of numbers, and how explaining certain mathematic scenarios can make it seem as if you are performing magic. Jim Carrey also goes further into how he has been obsessed with “23” for sometime before the film ever came along. Even to go as far as to changing his company’s name to JC23 a few years ago.

“How To Find Your Life Path Numbers” Featurette – Numerologist Glynis McCants explains the secrets behind numbers and the history with how they relate to people. She then teaches you how to find your “life path” number. McCants then goes even further explaining all nine life path numbers and what kind of people they are in their lives. This number mirrors your personality and is a goal you must accomplish to be happy in life.

Fact Track Trivia – This is virtually a pop-up information session in which there are little trivia tidbits throughout the film about the actors, animals, past films, story, the number, and everything else.

Deleted Scenes/Alternate Opening & Ending – Fourteen deleted scenes that are a bit of a mixed bag. Half of them were left out with good reason because they were virtually pointless. But the others really would have been great left in. One scene in particular where Walter is in the hotel washing his face in the bathroom, and when he looks into the mirror he does a very quick transformation into Fingerling and then back. A very cool scene that only lasted about two minutes but would have added a nice touch. And then there are the alternate opening and ending; both of which are better then those in the final cut. The alternate opening gives an extremely creepy feeling that would have set the tone right off the bat and also give a nice flashback for when the ending came. The alternate ending made a lot more sense then the one in the final cut and actually explains a little bit more what is in the finished version as well so I’m not sure why it wasn’t the chosen scene.

Audio Commentary – Director Joel Schumacher goes solo in discussing his film which isn’t actually too bad. He gives much more information about not only the ideas in the film but also all the different people involved. He also gives the normal information about the actors, shooting locations, past work, etc and then also lets it casually known he is in “AA.” The film is worth a second viewing anyway, so you might as well give Schumacher’s commentary a listen. It is only available on the theatrical version though and not the unrated.

“Making The Number 23” Featurette – At close to twenty-five minutes, this “making of” featurette goes as in depth as you could possibly go. Cast and crew of course come together as always, but it is the opening segment that is the most intriguing. They each give their own personal accounts of how the number 23 is associated with their lives and has been even before they had seen the script. Carrey actually had already gotten an obsession of the number from a friend and then shortly after and coincidentally got handed the script. Afterwards is how it was to film some scenes and a nice look into some of the actors playing multiple, and totally different, roles.

“Creating The World Of Fingerling” Featurette – This is another excellent feature that clocks in at right around twelve minutes and takes you even further into the world presented in The Number 23. Or should I say, the multiple worlds? There is the real world, the book world, the world of the Sparrow household, the world of the suicide blonde, and so much more that needed to all be different from the last. The writer even goes into detail about how he got ideas from Jacob’s Ladder. And I couldn’t quite place some of the flashback sequences in the film, but knew there was a unique style about them. It is revealed in this feature to be exactly what I was thinking and couldn’t find the words for it a pop-up book.

DVD-ROM Content – Trailers, website access, interactive viewing experience, pass on the “23” paranoia, share your “23” obsession

TrailersMr. Woodcock, Fracture, Snakes On A Plane, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Hard Easy

The Inside Pulse

The Number 23 is a lot better then most give it credit for. The film is creative and very entertaining as an old style detective film mixed with a Sin City comic book/multiple world feel. It is dark, deep, and makes you really think about things when you start realizing how deep the whole “23” phenomenon goes. And doing some deeper research, it reveals that the premise was not created for the film but has actually been around for centuries. The special features are so incredibly deep and give around ninety minutes of not only enjoyable content but also very educational. Professors and numerologists giving both their thoughts on the film and their expertise on the whole situation so as for the viewers to better understand it and get more involved in the film. Trust me folks, by the time you finish watching it, you will start finding strange numerical coincidences in everything you do. Even if you don’t mean to or even suck at math as I do.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Number 23
(OUT OF 10)